I had a great military career. I’ve traveled the world, led Soldiers in combat and become a better person, patriot and leader because of my military service. Even though I don’t have any major regrets per se, if I was to do it all over again, I definitely would have done things differently. In the paragraphs below I want to share what I would do differently if I was to start over again in the military.
# 1 I Would Have Went to College First
I enlisted right before high school graduation and then went to college for one semester. After that semester I went to basic training. Upon graduating from basic training I returned home and decided I wanted to go Active Duty. While on Active Duty I earned my Associate’s Degree at night. After getting my two year degree I was selected for the Green to Gold Program, where I attended SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson ROTC for three semesters.
Knowing what I know now, I would have went to an expensive and fun college first. I would have taken out college loans and lived the “college experience” for four years. After graduating college, I would enlist with the college loan repayment plan for a few years and then switch to Officer/Warrant Officer (more on that later).
# 2 I Would Have Joined the Marines Instead of the Army
As I get older, I appreciate the United States Marine Corps more and more. As a young guy, I thought they were all a bunch of meat heads. But knowing what I know now, what I admire most about the USMC is their self respect and pride in service. That’s something that is definitely lacking in the Army. I’ve never met a Marine that looked weak, made the uniform look bad, or didn’t have self-respect. All of those things are very common in today’s Army.
# 3 I Would Have Served as a NCO First, Then Officer
I’m proud to have served as an enlisted Soldier before I became a commissioned officer. But if I had to do it all over again, I would have waited a few more years and earned my NCO stripes first. This extra few years of experience would have helped with my maturity and leadership skills.
# 4 I Would Have Chosen a Combat Arms Branch
As an enlisted man I was an Administrative Specialist (71L) and as an Officer I was a logistician (92A, 91A and 90A). While I enjoyed those officer jobs, if I was to do it all over again, I definitely would have served in a combat arms role instead. I have so much respect for the infantrymen, tankers and artillery guys that I feel like I really missed out by serving in a combat service support role.
# 5 I Would Have Been a Warrant Officer
I enjoyed my time as an officer, but I never really felt like I fit in. I am good at leading troops and getting the job done, but I am definitely a hands on guy. I always admired the Warrant Officers, the respect they were given and the way they treated each other. I truly regret not going the Warrant Officer route.
What are some things you would do differently in your career, knowing what you know now? Post your comments and questions below. Thank you.