Why Do People Join the Military? – 10 Main Reasons

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

why do people join the military

Why do people join the military? Are you thinking of enlisting and wondering if you have the right reasons?

Many people join the military because of a sense of duty to serve their country. Others are attracted to the financial benefits, job stability, the possibility of travel and free education, a chance to meet lifelong friends, and the prospect of owning a home or living rent-free.

If you’re in search of motivations for military service, continue reading to learn the reasons other servicemembers enlist.

10 Common Reasons for Joining the Military

People have very different, sometimes personal reasons when they decide to join the army. Here are 10 of the most common ones:

1. Find purpose and serve your country


Patriotism or serving the country used to be the leading reason for enlistment whenever any war breaks and after attacks like 9/11.

Finding a sense of purpose in the military during life-changing events gives people a desire “to do something about it,” and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

While this is no longer the #1 reason people enlist, statistics show about 9% to 40% still include “calling to serve” as one of their reasons for pursuing this line of work.

2. Learn at no cost: from skills to free college or continuing education


Those who join the military learn numerous skills which could be transferable to other non-military careers. Skills like leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, ability to perform under pressure, and integrity are developed in the military.

They are all in-demand skills in any workforce.

Students who do not have college options after high school choose the military as an alternative path. Aside from paying $0 tuition, anyone enrolling in one of the 5 military colleges also gets free room and board, food, textbooks, and a yearly stipend.

  • S. Air Force Academy (Colorado) – The value of this program is over $400k.
  • S. Coast Guard Academy (Connecticut) – Cadets enrolled receive $12k a year, which they’ll use for academic supplies, uniforms, and other personal expenses while in school.
  • S. Military Academy (New York) – The value of this 4-year program is over $226k, but cadets pay $0 for tuition, room, board, medical care, and dental care. Aside from every cadet’s annual salary, new incoming freshmen receive a one-off of $8,400 in advance to purchase the initial sets of books, equipment, uniform, and other essentials.
  • S. Naval Academy (Maryland) – Aside from paying 100% of the tuition and room and board, the Navy also takes care of students’ medical and dental care costs.
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy (New York) – Midshipmen are given the complete ride – tuition, uniform, books, room and board at no cost.

Of course, if you pursue these educational programs, you are required to serve in the military for a particular number of years. You must also be physically fit and follow the rules from the day you begin training until the last day of your required service.

3. Travel and go on an adventure


You don’t really need to join the Air Force to be able to fly to different parts of the country (or the world).

If you love traveling, the military provides the opportunity to see various cities in the US and overseas. The best thing about this is the military funds the trip not just for you but also your family.

You can’t go sightseeing daily, since you still have to work in that particular location. However, you can enjoy your dayoffs and some 30-day paid vacation credits to explore the areas near your station.

As a member of the military, you also receive discounts or freebies when staying in military-designated resorts. To fly at no cost, military members (sometimes along with their families) could book in advance and join “Space-Available Travel” programs.

4. Continue family tradition


Many families have generations of men and women who served the country.

If you grew up in a military family and always knew you were going to follow the same path as your parents or grandparents, you join other service members who are continuing family traditions.

5. Get job stability and excellent benefits


Job stability (and the healthcare that comes with the job) are often the top benefits of joining the military.

  • Long-term contracts

The military is known for offering long-term contracts. They wouldn’t invest in your training, continuous education, and skills only to give you 6-month contracts, right?

As long as you follow the rules and serve your role as instructed, you’ll have a spot in the military for the duration of your contract.

  • Free healthcare

Healthcare is expensive. Although the type of benefit will vary based on the role or experience, all military members receive premium medical coverage, including for their families. Low-cost dental premiums are also included as part of military healthcare.

6. Receive Special Loans for Business or Home Purchases


Joining the service has its obvious financial perks like free education and job security. But not everyone commits to military life aware that they will have the opportunity to get special loans in the future.

Veterans can obtain VA loans for home purchases without a huge down payment. They could also communicate with the Veterans Administration if they need funding to start a business.

7. Become Physically and Mentally Strong


When people serve in the military, they have to perform physical training and pass physical tests throughout their careers. The intensity of training will vary between departments, but the idea is to be 100% prepared to effectively fight in all situations.

The upside to the constant training is that:

  • You’ll develop cardiovascular strength
  • You’ll significantly improve core endurance
  • You’ll improve running and swimming
  • You’ll avoid illnesses linked to obesity

While training the body, military service members are also training their minds. These rigorous workouts also instill a unique level of discipline, work ethic, and strong mental capacity.

The military also employs nutritionists and dietitians who ensure that members have nutritious food options.

When an active-duty member gets injured, the military also offers physical therapy, and provides additional fitness programs.

8. Retire Early with a Secured Future


Joining military at 25 or at 30 is uncommon for a reason. Those who enlisted straight from high school could potentially retire by age 40.

This is because retirement is eligible once a member of the military serves 20 years in any branch. Compared to the corporate world and other industries where the average retirement age is 65, the chance to retire early is an attractive benefit.

And because the Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System (BRS) covers all service members and sets aside 3% of their basic pay in a retirement account, their future is secured.

Upon reaching age 60 or completing 20 years of service, the service member has the option to:

  • Get a lump sum of his/her retirement
  • Receive a monthly pension for life. This is computed from the highest 36 months of basic pay and length of service.

Note that one of the best things about the military is you’re not really required to retire when you hit the 20-year mark of your career. Many service members continue serving for as long as they could still perform on the job.

9. Personal Development


The body and mind aren’t the only things members tend to develop in the military. They also develop:

  • Camaraderie: To be able to fulfill their duty, military members have to constantly work alongside a group of people. This builds a unique kind of brotherhood with mutual trust and loyalty, which is rarely found in other career settings.
  • Leadership: Even if members are just starting their military careers, they would be given opportunities to lead the team in working toward their common goal.

Continuous personal development is encouraged in the military. And if you’re interested in pursuing leadership roles, the military is more inclined to hire in-house.

10. Escape a Bad Situation or Negative Environment


Sometimes, people are born into a family with issues. Others are led into a bad situation, while others feel stuck in their hometowns without any progress.

For these people who feel there is no way out, the military can be a refuge. It could be a place where they could rebuild their lives from scratch.

They don’t even need to have a lot of money or a support system to make the switch – the military can provide these both in exchange for enlisting.


Why do people join the military? It can be any of the reasons above or a totally personal reason you don’t want to share.

At the end of the day, serving in the military for the good of the country is always a good idea.

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