The 5 Most Incorrect Misconceptions About The Military
by: Yvonne Jones
A smaller share of Americans currently serve in the Armed Forces than at any other given point in time since World War II. This, in turn, has led to a growing gap between people in uniform and the civilian population. With no personal exposure to the military and with the appearance of shows like Army Wives, it is no wonder that so many people have misconceptions about the military.
To counter this development, here is a list of the most frustrating misconceptions regarding the military.
#1 – NO EDUCATION
Many still hold the belief that joining the military is the route poor, uneducated minorities choose for lack of other options. This Vietnam-era image of the makeup of the military, however, bears no resemblance to today’s force.
Among new active-duty enlistees, 92 percent had a high school diploma or equivalent before enlisting (compared to 79 percent of comparable civilians). Among officers, 95 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree before being commissioned, and more than a quarter of all officers have advanced degrees (although the majority of advanced degrees were earned while in uniform). Additionally, before enlisting, new recruits on average scored higher on standardized tests and read at a higher grade level than their civilian counterparts. As such, new enlistees actually come into the service much better educated than their civilian compatriots. For a more detailed breakdown of the makeup of new recruits and officers, read D. Englin’s article here.
#2 – FAT PAYCHECK
If you want to live a life of luxury with no worries or cares in the world, I wouldn’t advise joining or marrying into the military. Even with the benefits, many service members do not make what their civilian counterparts earn.
Did you know that most military families with the rank of E-5 or below qualify for some form of governmental assistance? The base pay of a newly enlisted person is on average about $1,468. And while we do receive additional benefits, this level of income can still put a financial strain on a family.
Even during combat deployments, service members only receive about $575 extra per month, which, in my opinion, is not enough to risk your life for.
#3 – NO TAXES
Many believe that those in the military don’t pay taxes. I wish I could say that this was true. The truth, however, is that everyone in the U.S. (legally at least) pays taxes. Even in the military. All pay federal taxes, and most pay state taxes, depending on tax rules in their home of record. The only time a service member doesn’t pay federal taxes is when he or she is deployed to a combat zone.
#4 – BANKERS’ HOURS
The military is not a typical 9-5 job. A contracted set of hours and a regulation of overtime does not exist. Your service(wo)man is expected to be ready for duty 24/7. Yes, there are some days when the service member gets to go home early, but then there are other days when he or she doesn’t get to go home at all.
A regular work day counts an average of 7-9 hours, from Monday through Friday. If a service(wo)man is deployed, however, he or she is “on duty” all the time for the entire duration of the deployment, standing daily watches and not getting weekends off for months at a time.
#5 – ENLISTED VS. OFFICER SPOUSES
Thanks to shows like Army Wives, we now have a whole bunch of non-military viewers believing that officer wives dress conservatively and sip coffee at their officer wives’ clubs, while enlisted wives dress poorly and stuff their faces at the first fast food place they can find.
This misconception is one of the oldest and most worn-out spouse stereotypes ever: enlisted vs. officer wives. Enlisted wives are not trashy girls who have no class, and officer wives are not snobby country-club divas who act like they’re above everyone else. When it comes to being a military spouse, we are all exactly the same: someone who fell in love with someone who happens to serve in the military.
This list of misconceptions in this post is by no means a complete one (for a more extensive list with multiple categories, please check out my book “Closing The Gap: Understanding Your Service(wo)man”). But it’s a start; a start to help our civilian loved ones to gain a greater understanding of what it means to be a military family. My ultimate goal of every single post within this blog is to bring our way of life a bit closer to our extended families and friends within the civilian world, so as to strengthen the bond between civilian and military families.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about military members, their spouses, and about military families as a whole? What stereotypes have you heard or thought regarding military life?
About the author:
Yvonne Jones is a military spouse of 13 years and counting. After years of direct contact, experience and research in the field at hand, she knows the ins and outs of the issues covered in Closing The Gap: Understanding Your Service(wo)man, a book that is meant to reconnect Military Families with their non-military friends and family members by helping civilians learn more about the life within the Military.
Yvonne wants to thank her fellow Military Families and all those that so lovingly support them. This book is dedicated to you!
To learn more, please visit www.UnderstandingYourServiceman.com
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Genre – Military Family
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