What Are the Benefits of Joining the Military?
Did you know that 1.3 million people in the U.S. were in the military in 2021? It may seem like a lot, but that’s a whopping 38% lower than the count back in 1987.
So it’s no wonder the U.S. has decided to offer even more benefits to those joining the military.
But what exactly are the benefits of enlisting as a service member aside from the pride and honor it can give? Do some of those perks also apply to a personnel’s family members?
We’ve shared the top answers to those questions in the guide below, so keep reading.
Upon joining the military service, you’ll get paid Army Basic Pay. It’s the guaranteed base salary for all active duty and enlisted Soldiers. The longer you’re in service, the higher your salary usually gets.
When you first enlist, your administrative classification will likely be Private E-1. The “E” stands for enlisted, while the “1” pertains to your pay grade.
During your first four months, you’ll earn a little less than an E-1 whose been in service for over four months. As of 2022, the basic monthly pay for the first four months with an E-1 pay grade is $1,695.00. After that, it goes up to $1,833.30.
Enlistment Cash Bonuses
Another of the best military benefits is that you can earn various bonuses on top of your salary. For example, some enlisted job openings offer a signing bonus. If you qualify, you can start getting these incentives on your very first day of service.
The maximum bonus for new military recruits used to be $40,000. However, the U.S. Army decided to raise that to a staggering $50,000 this 2022. That higher bonus applies to those with specific skills who commit to at least six years of service.
Even if you don’t qualify for that maximum bonus, you can still get up to a $40,000 incentive with the Quick Ship Bonus. You can earn this by attending Basic Training within 45 days of your enlistment.
Depending on the military branch you join, you may also earn special pay added to your base salary. An example is an enlisted flyer incentive pay, ranging from $150 to $400 monthly.
As with the Army Basic Pay, how much you’d get depends on your years of service. The $150 bonus is for qualified members with under four years of aviation service.
The military also helps active-duty members pay for college or student loans.
For example, most enlistees qualify for Military Tuition Assistance (TA). Except for the Space Force, all types of military service can have up to 100% of their tuition fees covered.
The TA isn’t a loan, so there’s no need to pay it back. However, it has maximum coverages; for instance, the Army program only pays for up to $4,000 per fiscal year. For Coast Guards, it’s $3,750, while it’s $4,500 for the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Space Force.
Fortunately, active duty members also have the option to use the GI Bill to “top up” what the TA doesn’t cover. The GI Bill can also pay the full tuition of service members attending public schools. It also helps cover a portion of education fees charged by private schools.
New military recruits can also benefit from the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program. With this, qualified members can eliminate up to $65,000 of their existing student loan debts.
If, like most Americans, you dream of becoming a homeowner, then joining the military can help. For one, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides housing assistance and loans. You can get a direct VA loan or a VA-backed mortgage if you’re eligible.
Then, once you own a home, you can decorate and furnish it with your military coins, awards, or ribbons. Don’t forget that some home and hardware stores offer discounts to service members. Home Depot, Lowes, Overstock, Eight Sleep, and Sherwin Williams are just a few examples.
There are nine pay grades that you can progress through as an enlisted service member. That’s E-1 to E-9, and, as mentioned above, your pay increases the higher your classification.
Many factors can help you advance your career in the military, and your length of service is one of them. Likewise, you can get promoted through your performance, awards, or commendations. You can also get a higher pay grade if you display leadership skills and job specializations.
Part of the military pay and benefits package is the accrual of annual paid leaves. You can earn up to 30 days of paid leaves yearly.
When you first enlist, you don’t have any leaves yet. However, after your first month in service, you earn 2.5 days. You then continue getting additional 2.5 days per month of service.
Moreover, you can carry over up to 60 days of leaves to the next fiscal year.
Health and Dental Care
The most recent available figures show that health care spending in the U.S. averaged $12,530 per person in 2020. That’s a considerable jump of $1,068 from the previous year. However, experts are bracing for even more increases this 2022 and beyond.
Fortunately, active military service members receive no-cost health and dental care benefits. Those are part of their benefits package. The Department of Defense administers this through its health insurance program, TRICARE.
TRICARE also provides coverage for the family members of active duty members. Depending on the program, family members may pay little to nothing to get the benefits.
Affordable Life Insurance
Active-duty service members also automatically receive affordable life insurance. They get this through the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). The maximum coverage is $400,000, but they can elect to reduce that to $50,000.
Consider These Benefits of Joining the Military
And there you have it, the top benefits of joining the military. As you can see, the salary isn’t that high at first, but it’s still a guaranteed income. Besides, it increases the longer you’re in service.
Don’t forget that, as a service member, you also get bonuses, education, loans, and insurance. To top it all off, many of these benefits also apply to veterans and family members.
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