Why I Would Never Join the Military


I’ve always said I would never join the military. Nope. You’d never find me wearing my long hair in a bun, donning camouflage and lacing up combat boots. My husband is the servicemember, I am the military spouse. That arrangement suits me just fine.

Years ago, when I was stalled at a fork in my career path, my husband tried to convince me to become a Reservist. I laughed. Not because I didn’t respect the brave men and women who choose to serve our country. No, I laughed because the suggestion conjured an image of my rebellious alter ego manifesting itself as Goldie Hawn a la “Private Benjamin” who constantly has to drop and bust out more push-ups as punishment for not doing as she was told.

I don’t have the discipline. I don’t like people telling me what to do. I wouldn’t want to be separated from my family. I don’t know how we could manage as a dual-military couple. Camouflage isn’t one of my signature colors. Those are the excuses I always gave my husband whenever he brought it up. Those are the excuses I told myself whenever I actually gave the suggestion more than 90 seconds of consideration.

Although I never took the military route seriously, every now and then I come across a story that makes me think that just maybe special circumstances could have presented themselves that would have inspired me to become a servicemember. The other day I stumbled upon this story of an Army widow who decided to join the Army herself as a way to honor her husband. As I watched the 2-minute video clip, I went from feeling sorry for this young woman to applauding her courage as she sought to make her soldier “my brother-in-arms as well as my husband.”

This woman found her calling to serve. My husband found his calling to serve. Most of the military men and women I’ve met, at some point in their lives, found a calling to serve. I never had that calling.

But sometimes I think I might have enjoyed being a servicemember. The military might have given me a boost in self-confidence and assertiveness at a time in my life when I was in low supply of both. The structure of the military might have been a positive attribute rather than something to rebel against. I would have thrived on the athletic side of the military. And I have to admit, I kind of like shooting guns.

I guess in the end I was called to serve in a different capacity. I may not wear a uniform, but I’d like to think I serve by supporting the person in our house who does.

Have you ever thought about joining the military?

About the Author

Heather Sweeney
Heather Sweeney is an Associate Editor at Military.com, former Navy wife, mother of two, blogger, and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.
  • Do it, love it, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I enlisted in the AF Reserve at age 30 and don’t regret it for a second. I love being a dual mil fam!

  • Sonja

    Did it as a ANG for 13.5 years. Loved it but got out because of hubby’s career. Just found it difficult to find a new guard home every time we moved. I regret that now. It was life changing at the time I joined. Gave me the boost I needed to go back to college to finish, made life long friends and loved my career field.

  • My father wanted a son who would follow in his footsteps and join the Army. He got daughters…all girly daughters that loved Barbie dolls, anything pink, and rebelling against any form of discipline or restriction that our parents tried to impose on us. As my older sisters started getting their drivers licenses, we younger sisters started hearing about how my dad had pulled each one aside to encourage her to consider a career in the Army. My poor dad…6 daughters he tried to convince, and not one of us took him up on it. I’m daughter #5, and the panicked sense of urgentness he had when he pulled me aside for that conversation told me that he knew that he wasn’t going to succeed with any of us.

    • It wasn’t until I was too old to join that I thought about it, and realized that it might have given me a structure to develop self-discipline, confidence, assertiveness, etc. Two of my sisters told me that they, too, had thought the same thing after it was too late. I told him that a couple of years after 9/11, when he was at the VA being treated for cancer. He had a little smile on his face when he heard me say it. I, too, have settled for being supportive of a significant other in uniform. Dad would have liked him, :-).

    • Phil

      I try with with both of my sons, didn’t work. Now that it is hard to keep a job unemployment is not enough. When to company that I worked for went under I get unemployment for 6 mo. and my retirement pay made in just a little bit better.

  • You may be a “military spouse” but you have NO written contractual agreement to be recalled from retirement, along with two-dozen other requirements that are enforced upon military retirees.

  • StarlaRose

    I wanted to so desperately serve our country when I turned 19. I, however, could not join due to vision problems in my left eye that, even if corrected, would be pretty much impossible to get a waiver for. My dreams of serving died. So, I serve through my husband who is in the Army. I hold down the fort for him, I make sure his needs are met. I am proud of him, proud of what he has done for us, our family and our country. Life sometimes puts us in positions we may not want, or cannot have. Then it gives us the opportunity to help in other ways. I guess being an Army wife is what I am meant to be. No regrets, because I love this life. Sadness, pain and happiness all rolled in to one.

  • Kim

    I was active duty when I met my active duty husband. I got out when our first child was born, as the dual military thing just wasn’t working for us… I miss it, and sort of split the difference by supporting him and working as an Army civilian.

  • lne68

    You are serving, supporting your husband in what he does is more than a lot of spouses do, no matter what the occupation is. On top of that being proud of your military and your husband goes much further than you can imagine, especially in his mind. It makes him a better soldier and a better husband and that makes for a better family and a better USA. If you would have joined, boot camp would have toned down that rebellious attitude that you had, it did mine.

    • John6185

      You are a far better wife than my ex, I served in Vietnam and lived on $10 per month and sent all the rest of my pay home. After I returned home about 4 months later I received a phone call at my duty station. It seems she spent the money I sent home and took out a loan at a finance company. Never helped me with military matters, just slept and ignored the kids. Now she’d be charged with child neglect because the small children would be outside in diapers playing at 10AM and she’d be asleep when I come home for lunch. I’m glad that chapter in my life is over but I wasted many years. Now the kids are grown and she won’t have anything to do with them.

  • CGWife

    My husband and I are both active duty Coast Guard and I love it. We have been seperated for majority of our marriage but we are finally co-located and I have never regretted joining. I am in college full-time, making good money and I feel like I am part of a bigger purpose serving my country =). So far so good for me! And boot camp was actually not AS bad as I thought it would be lol. If I could get through it anyone could.

  • I’ve been seriously considering it. The Reserves don’t seem too bad. I am a rebel at heart and that has delayed me from joining. I really don’t want someone telling me what to do and when to do it

  • Grace

    I’m an AF Reservist and my husband is active, the time apart is hard but we are both thankful that we can support our family. I have so much gratitude for military spouse, Army and Marine especially, because every single time that spouse leaves (considering the physical nature of their job and the length of departure) there is no way of knowing what danger lay ahead so THANK YOU!

  • Gail

    My husband and I met while we were both active duty Air Force officers. He went into the AF reserve after 8 years and just retired this year after hitting his 30. I remained on active duty until retirement. I met him in a courts-martial (no, not my own); he was prosecuting and I was on the court (essentially a jury member). We acquitted the accused, but I still went out with him.

    We’ve been married almost 29 years. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful I went into the military. You get early responsibility, the same pay as the guys, and the chance to work with intelligent, motivated people. I also had 75% of my master’s degree paid for while I was on active duty. My pension isn’t huge, but it allows me the option of not working full time. I teach part-time at a two-year college, and a lot of my students would really benefit from a four-year hitch. Many of them have no role models in their own families, and it would be a game-changer for them. They need to learn how to organize and set goals. So, if you’re thinking about it, do it. You won’t be the same person who went in.

  • Brian Derr

    After 20yrs of service, doing a Tdy in Pamma from Sept to Dec 1989 having been awarded the southwest Asia Medal/ 2 device and Outstanding Unit w/valor in 1991 and serval addtal Tdy to the Aro and in 1994 while assign to a Tdy at Gitmo for the Hatti resecive The air force adcivement medle only to return to Shaw and be given a 3 EPR while another indiduals was given fire wall 5. also did Tdys in south america. Needless to say I spent 7yrs at Shaw to have my Career destory and to later learn throught Face book that an indidual has made Cmsgt the most honor enlist rank, an indivdual that I full hareted find was given favors by the Civilian superviser and wwhen i was told to write one of my airman i told the supervisor to write his NCO for the same Afence , upon he threaten me with derlition of duty I then file an iG complaint and what follow destory my career but thats a differnt story But all in all I would not Change a thing and i know i can hold my head poud with my service Nd YES I WILL DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN
    SSGT USAF Retire

  • Ret. USAF, Viet Vet

    I wouldn’t join today’s military either, for different reasons. An affirmative action Army General, Claudia Kennedy, said “this is not your father’s army.” She was right, my father’s army won WWII, today’s army could not. And it is not totally the army’s fault. Today’s military has been seriously handicapped by social engineering, downsizing and BRACs. I served 20 years back when men were men, women were women, sodomites were still in the closet, and it should have remained that way. No, I would not serve again.

  • Me777

    Yeah, a sodomite (or at least gay man) defeated and conquered the Persian Empire. I hope you wouldn’t serve again either, because if I was in the military I wouldn’t want to serve with a bigot like you.