Advice for a New Recruit
Today we went to my step-brother's house for a cookout to celebrate his youngest son's high school graduation. Graduating high school is nice, but that's what everyone does (or at least should do). The big deal with our nephew is that he has enlisted in the U.S. Army and leaves for basic training in July. I came up with the following advice for him. Feel free to share if you'd like, just credit it to me.
Advice to make the most out of your time in the Army
- Be a leader – if something needs doing, do it – coordinate your fellow soldiers without being “bossy”
- Live in the barracks – sounds like fun to get a house in town with your buddies, but it leads to trouble, expenses, and more trouble – living in the barracks you get free room and board – take it
- Stay away from the E-club and bars in town – spend your free time improving yourself – gym and college courses through St. Leo and AMU are the best thing you can do – also make extra money by taking guard or duty shifts from others
- Don’t fall prey to the easy credit outside of base – if you truly need a car – and you don’t if you live on base – save up and buy a cheap one for cash – all bases have places where you can borrow tools and equipment and learn to work on it yourself – you don’t need one to come home on leave or anything like that – take Greyhound
- Don’t fall prey to the townie girls and the wives/girlfriends of deployed soldiers – there is no reason for anyone to be married or have kids until at least E5 and after reenlisting
- Don’t waste money on entertainment devices, extra civilian clothes, and other useless crap that you will have to move with you when you change duty stations – spend some money on better gear than what the Army issues, and save, save, save!
- Don’t take stupid vacations like Las Vegas or Disney World – the Army has all kinds of free recreational equipment for soldiers to use – camping gear, canoes, fishing equipment, all kinds of outdoor fun
- Take any advanced or specialty training you can – it will help with promotions, and may even pay additional money – Airborne, CBRNE, NCO school, Drill Sgt. school, marksman instructor, things like that
- Volunteer for Afghanistan or Iraq – hazard duty pay PLUS no federal income tax while over there
- As soon as you can, establish legal residency in a state with no state income tax (Tennessee, Florida, Wyoming, New Hampshire, there are a couple more). It will take a little time, money and creativity, but it will save you thousands and thousands of dollars over the course of your enlistment. If you get stationed in a tax-free state, do it immediately, otherwise you need to use some leave time to go to the state. If you can get a driver’s license in the state, that is typically all you need to do to establish residency. Then see your base legal officer and fill out DD Form 2058 – State of Legal Residence Certificate. It is stupid to pay taxes to Va. when you don’t live here anymore and don’t use the so-called “services” that the state provides, but the only way around it is to establish residency elsewhere. If you can manage it this summer before you go to basic, all the better.
Yesterday, Jack Spirko had a fantastic episode of The Survival Podcast offering his advice for parents raising kids. I'm not a parent. I work around kids and am very close to our young niece and nephew, but I've never raised kids. The information that Jack offered yesterday was great advice, and would be of value to any new parent, whether with a newborn, or coming in as a stepparent like he did. If you don't listen to The Survival Podcast, I really encourage you to listen to yesterday's episode. Here's the link to Episode 920, Building Self-Reliance in our Children.