What is the military? In simple terms, it is made up of the five armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. There are three general categories of military people: active duty (full-time soldiers and sailors), reserve & guard forces (usually work a civilian job, but are occassionally called to full-time military duty), and veterans and retirees (past members of the military).
The President is the Commander in Chief. He/she makes all final decisions, but the real work is done by those below him. The Department of Defense (DoD) has control over the military and each branch. With over 2 million civilian and military employees, the DoD is the world's largest "company."
Each branch of the military has a unique mission within the overall mission of U.S. security and peace. Here they are in a nutshell:
Air Force: The nation's source of air and space power. The primary mission of the USAF is to fly planes, helicopters, and satellites.
Army: The dominant land power. The Army generally moves in to an area, secures it, and instills order and values before it leaves. It also guards U.S. installations and properties throughout the world.
Coast Guard: The Coast Guard's mission is primarily with domestic waterways. The Coast Guard does rescues, law enforcement, drug prevention, and clears waterways.
Marine Corps: The Marine Corps is known as the U.S.' rapid-reaction force. They are trained to fight by sea and land, and usually are the first "boots on the ground." Marines are known as the world's fiercest warriors.Navy: The Navy accomplishes its missions primarily by sea, but also by air and land. It secures and protects the oceans around the world to create peace and stability, making the seas safe for travel and trade.
The National Guard and Reserve ProgramsIt's the way of the Weekend Warrior, but it's also much more than that. If you're considering joining the military, National Guard and Reserve programs provide flexibility and rewards. Guardspeople and Reservists play a critical role in national defense, while also receiving part-time service, pay and benefits.
Each Reserve and National Guard service involves different requirements, commitments and responsibilities. And of course, serving in one service branch can be very different from serving in another service branch.
So, remember to take a look at what each branch has to offer for both Reserve and National Guard opportunities. Be sure to also check with your local recruiters to get the latest information on benefits and career options.
Military AcademiesFour service academies combine "Ivy League"-quality education with special training. Competition is extremely fierce to get into the academies; three require nominations.
Once accepted, cadets or midshipmen receive full benefits along with a tuition-free education. All graduates earn a Bachelors of Science degree.
Military Friendly Online Colleges and UniversitiesBeing in the military is a job like no other, but for many servicemembers, it’s not their last. Veterans and active duty personnel often return to school to prepare for another career, and finding an online college that’s military-friendly can make the transition far easier. These schools have flexible online programs that award course credit for time served in the military, give opportunities to remotely connect with other veterans, and provide benefits offered through the GI Bill.