When you hear the word “army”, what comes to mind? The responses you’d get from people vary widely. Some look upon the army as “the best thing that could ever happen to you” whilst others fear it and think of it as being “the LAST thing that will ever happen to you”!
A lot of people think they know what the army is like from watching films like Saving Private Ryan, playing Call of Duty and learning about World War II in school. The reality of everyday army life today is very different.
For anyone curious about why some people join the army, and for those who are considering joining and looking for reasons to back up their decision, this article’s for you.
Why do people join the army?
There are loads of possible reasons why individual people join the army, but here is a list of 10 of the most common motivations behind joining:
1. A strong feeling that their purpose is to defend civilians and their country
Some feel like defending people is their calling in life. To them it feels like a meaningful and honourable way to spend their lives. This is their way to make a difference to better the world. They feel like they’re doing their bit. And this means a job in the army is a job a lot of people would be very proud of. It’s also great for boosting the self-esteem.
This tendency to look after our “tribe” and “territories” is closely linked to the animal instinct commonly seen in the wild where animals have an inborn need to defend their territories and communities. Chances are that we humans also possess an inborn need to defend ourselves, our offspring and our land when under attack. This is exactly what the army does.
2. The camaraderie
The army is famous for developing a sense of camaraderie between soldiers. It’s like a family who really understands you because they all go towards the same experiences together. This is particularly attractive to people who maybe weren’t the most popular kid in school, who seek acceptance which they struggled to achieve previously, and which the team-mentality of the army can provide. This camaraderie of course is a bonus to anyone, including people who have experienced a lot of acceptance in their lives before and want more of it.
As social creatures, not only do we have an intrinsic need for such connection with others, but we also have a strong inclination to work together as a team for the good of a bigger goal, as is done in the army. This tendency comes from our ancient hunting days when people had to cooperate on a hunt to kill a large prey animal, or else everyone starved. If our ancestors had not made us evolve into a generally cooperative species, getting armies to work together would have been a lot harder.
A lot of people enjoy the feeling of meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds, all coming together into one “family” in the army. It’s quite likely you’ll share some values with people who want to tread the same life path you’ve chosen.
3. Being a part of history
Throughout the course of human existence, armies have been at the core of key historical events. By being right in there in the midst of the action, you are securing your place in the pages of history, and adding to the story of the world which we weave every day. They are part of something bigger than themselves.
4. Some people like taking ACTION rather than sitting around debating matters
They have the same spirit of the “Action Man” figure!
The feeling you get when you get up and actually DO something is different from the feeling you get when you just think about it, or talk about it. They want to get things done!
This links in with the fact that a lot of jobs in the army are outdoor and very active which is suitable to this temperament of people too.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 main types that people are classified into: Vata, Pita and Kapha. People with a high amount of Vata need to be active a lot of the time. They love physical activity, and keeping busy, and are the kind of people who would thrive on the high-action soldier’s life. Pita types are very fiery, quick-to-react and may be impatient, also leading them to enjoy the adrenaline rushes and fast-paced heat of the moment activities that can come with soldier life. Kapha types usually are more sedentary and slow to react and generally would prefer doing office work rather than running around on the field.
5. People who want adventure
A lot of young people are itching to get out of their small hometowns, out of boring lives with possibly few opportunities, and want to be independent, see the world and experience life for themselves. The army answers a lot of these needs, especially for people who perhaps can’t afford to go to university or to pay for round-the-world plane tickets. Not only this, but they also pay you for this experience.
Army life is an adventure by any definition. From the harsh training in the first year, to the potential to work with tanks or helicopters, and to the adrenaline buzz of being in dangerous situations. It’s really the ultimate adrenaline buzz for adrenaline junkies.
6. People who want to overcome their fear of death
Some people want to face their fear of death, and see an opportunity to do this by becoming a soldier who puts himself somewhat in the Grim Reaper’s peripheral vision. This is one of the reasons many people try to dissuade loved ones from joining the army, and is understandable, because going to fight is not without risk.
However, most people’s view of a soldier’s life is tinted by war movies and news stories. Risk is not as high as it was in World War II, and the news stories reporting the tragedies fail to put it into perspective: In non-military jobs, the death rates are higher, but they aren’t reported as much. When was the last time the news reported that a fisherman died on the job? Or that a scaffolder plummeted to his death? Believe it or not, careers as fishermen, deck engine-room hands and steel-erectors/ scaffolders are possibly more dangerous than a job in the army. Some statistics say that you are more likely to die in a car accident than in the army.
Having said that, a sizeable enough percent of people do die on the job in the army, so it is a risk that needs careful consideration before going forward with your decision. Go in with your eyes completely open knowing you may be facing death on the job. When faced with death and when under real threats, it can really change a person’s perspective on life.
When living on the edge, being faced with real danger, people can become more aware of the life that is pulsing through their veins. It helps make you more grateful for the little things and gives simple things a terrible sense of joy that you’re still around to enjoy them. Life is precious. You learn to savour each second of it. It also helps reinforce what really matters in life. You’ve got your life. Everything else is replaceable.
7. Some people are mostly motivated by the fact that you don’t need a whole lot of qualifications to get in, and it offers a chance to earn a reasonable income, with benefits
Apart from a stable pay, the army offers additional benefits. Depending on the country you serve in, benefits differ, but you often get free room and board, and in the US free medical and dental, and if you’re married, you could get housing and food allowance. You also learn skills on the job, many of which will serve you in civilian life. You learn how to look after yourself when your life depends on it which is perhaps the ultimate skill that’s important to know. You also gain in maturity and responsibility when faced with serious situations.
In the USA it also helps you get an education which is a big plus.
8. Some people join because they like the tight structure of army life
Whilst the regimented lifestyle is not for everyone, some people thrive on it, and love being whipped into shape, kept fit and disciplined.
9. Carrying on the family tradition
Some families have generations of people who have served in the army, and there is a pressure on the kid to follow in the elders’ footsteps.
10. It helps men get in touch with their masculinity
This point is mostly for the boys. Being in the macho environment of the army can help people feel even more masculine than they already are. If they’re looking to nurture this side of them, the army is one way to do it. It can also generally help a person to toughen up.
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The reason I joined the US Army is that I had the job skills, but no civilian employer would let me use them until I had slaved away in lower level positions for years. The Army offered me an opportunity to use those skills immediately and improve on them. I also had responsibility far in excess of those senior civilian employees who would not consider me. I was also rapidly promoted which would not happen in the civilian world. Contrary to popular beliefs, the Army also offered alot of opportunity for creativity and trying new things.
You missed a very important point – money – This is the i’m going to join the navy and for some reason you mention above.
Reason you should NOT join the Army:
To get a job
Cause I like “Call of Duty”
To get an education
Joining the military, especially the Army or the Marines puts you in the unique position of being a warrior. That means as part of your job you may be asked to kill for your country. I know you say you are going to be a “insert safe job here”. Tell that to the baker, cooks, payroll clerks, etc from Bastogne they had weapons thrust in their hands and told to hold the line, which they did.
Every single soldier or marine needs this in the back of his mind when they think of joining. It isn’t safe, it isn’t cosy, and the pay isn’t that great, ultimately it may cost you your life. Ready for that and the discipline that goes with that? Great if not, do not join.
The military can be the single best thing in your professional life and has great opportunities in so many ways, but it has a price.
couldn’t agree more with you… great points you made.