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Thinking of joining the military after High School?

If you are considering joining the military, one of the most important things you can do is to check out this page. It has facts and figures about the military you need to know before making an informed decision about joining one of the military branches.

On this page you will find information that anyone considering the military needs to know, especially information that a military recruiter will not tell you.  You should also consider talking to a member of Veterans For Peace, who are veterans of military service. It’s our goal to help you think through your interest in joining the military and make sure your decision is based on all the facts and aligns with your values.

Also here are links to resources to help you consider alternatives to military service, and a way to connect with a veteran of military service.

Facts you should know about military service:

  • Initial military enlistments are typically for a four year term, however all initial enlistments come with an 8 year obligation.
  • Under the military “Stop Loss” policy, your active duty time can be involuntarily extended up to your 8 year obligation.
  • Once you enlist, it is very difficult to get out.
  • The military is not a job training program. It is called the armed forces for a reason. It’s mission is to fight wars.
  • Many active duty and veterans suffer PTSD and related issues such as suicide (average of 20 a day) and substance abuse.
  • Regarding suicide, one study finds that certain types of combat experiences may increase the risk of suicide while another one finds that the suicide rate for active military personnel and veterans of the post-9/11 wars is more than 4 times higher than the number of service members killed in those wars.
  • Over 30% of women in the military are victims of some form of sexual assault.
  • If you signed up for the Delayed Entry Program (DEP aka “Future Soldiers Program”), you can change your mind at any time before the actual enlistment. DEP is not enlisting.
  • The fine print of the military enlistment contract says they can send you anywhere and order you to perform any duties that the military chooses. (https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0004.pdf— sections 9 and 10).
  • U.S. attacks on other countries are not fought to defend our country, or for freedom and democracy. U.S. invasions are about keeping countries of the world in line with “our” interests. As a result, millions are killed, mostly civilians (https://www.veteransforpeace.org/).
  • While it is illegal for military recruiters to give false information, they will give you the minimum information necessary to get you to enlist. They will not volunteer information about Stop Loss, suicide, PTSD or any of the many other reasons to question military service. They are sales people. 

Before you join the military we encourage you to consider the following questions:

  • Why do you want to enlist?
  • Have you been fully informed?
  • Are you willing to give up your rights?
  • Are you willing to kill (or be killed)?
  • Do you have other options?

If you want to earn money for college, find adventure, or travel, don’t assume you must enlist. On this page you will find links to resources that can walk you through many options for thinking about jobs and careers, being of service to social needs, seeing the world, and paying for training or college.

If you want more information and sources regarding these issues, take the Military IQ Quiz and review the answers.


Alternatives To Enlistment

  • Seattle Promise is a college tuition and success program launched by Seattle Colleges, Seattle Public Schools, and the City of Seattle following passage of the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy in 2018.
    Seattle Promise has three core components:

      1. Free tuition at any of the Seattle Colleges: North Seattle College, Seattle Central College or South Seattle College for up to two years, 90 credits or a student’s first degree, whichever comes first.
      2. Equity scholarships, which provide flexible funding to students, for books, transportation, housing, etc. for those with financial need.
      3. Student support and advising beginning in the junior year of high school and lasting through completion of a degree, certificate, credential or transfer to a four-year institution.

    All Seattle Public High Schools graduates are eligible for the Seattle Promise program regardless of grade point average (GPA), income, ability or country of birth

    For more information: https://www.seattlecolleges.edu/promise

  • Apprenticeship Training Programs
      • King County’s Apprenticeship Program works with employers, employer associations, and labor unions to sponsor apprenticeship programs. To find a program you are interested in, use the Apprenticeship Registration Tracking System (ARTS). This database is maintained by WA State Dept of Labor & Industries and it lists all registered apprenticeship programs available in Washington, and the requirements for each program. You should contact the program directly to see if they are accepting new apprentices.
        For more information: https://secure.lni.wa.gov/arts-public/#/all-programs
        A WORD OF CAUTION: If a company hires you informally as an “apprentice,” and the apprenticeship is not officially registered with the state or federal government, you will not receive the benefits of a registered apprenticeship, including working as a journey-level professional.
      • More than 3,000 apprentices from over 50 different trades attend classes weekdays, evenings and Saturdays at the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle College. All apprenticeship training programs listed below partner with South Seattle College to receive college credit for the related supplemental instruction portion of the programs. South Seattle College offers a pathway for Apprentices to earn an Associate of Applied Science – Transfer (AAS-T) Degree in Multi-Occupational Trades.
        For more information: https://georgetown.southseattle.edu/apprenticeship-education-center
      • The Seattle Central College’s Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA) provides the classroom instruction and hands-on training on working vessels that you need to prepare for a career in the regional and global maritime industry.  SMA graduates fill vital roles in the maritime sector, including in commercial and passenger transportation, commercial fishing, deep sea sailing and the workboat industry. For more information: https://maritime.seattlecentral.edu/
      • Health Care Apprenticeship Consortium “a partnership created to provide all healthcare employers within Washington State access to the benefits of skilled apprenticeship training for their workforce.” https://healthcareapprenticeship.org/programs/
    • Alternatives to the Military (National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY))
      The NNOMY website has a huge list of alternatives and resources for a range of opportunities that include: Schools/Scholarships, Internships/Training, Jobs, Civilian Corps, Cultural, Public Service, Sports, Travel, Volunteer, and more:

    • Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (YANO)
      Project YANO primarily serves young people who are looking for job training, wish to go to college or want to make a difference in other people’s lives — but they might not see enough opportunities to pursue, visit: