Taking the Oath

SFC Tomon, the VAARNG recruiter, visited one last time to take me to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). We went to the Richmond, Va. MEPS, where I had to go through several stations of medical and clerical tasks. I had never seen so many paper forms to fill out. By the end of processing, seven hours had passed and I was just about to sign the paperwork.

I read every last detail of the contract. It was tens of pages long, double sided. I had to dig through each part to make sure I was getting the benefits I was promised. About ¾ of the way through the contract I noticed that the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) was not included where I had expected it would be mentioned. I immediately jumped on the defensive and became uncomfortable about the enlistment process.

I mentioned the mistake to the administrative person and she tried to tell me it was in there. I had to say, "Show me." She ripped the contract out of my hand and sighed like I was a pain in her ass. She ruffled the contract back and forth, looked up at me an in a soft voice said, "You are right. It is not in here. I am so sorry." She took the contract and went into a back office only to appear with a new contract about 45 minutes later.

This time I read everything again and saw all of the benefits outlined. I also read all of the concessions I was about to make. I signed the contract. Then I waited in a line of about 10 people for the official swearing in ceremony. The whole time I was asking myself, "What have I gotten myself into?"

"I, Bert Stover, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Opportunity to quit has presented itself a couple of times in my career, especially since I've graduated from college and the bills are paid. Twice since my initial enlistment I have taken the oath, all because I have come to enjoy what I do in the VAARNG. If I were to do it all over again I would choose the same course of action.

By Bert Stover |  September 15, 2005; 5:22 AM ET  | Category:  Why the Military?
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I was in the third to the last draft. I did not serve in Vietnam. I was also a DA Select Recuriter,(that means, you go on recruiting duty, not matter what.) I know about the business of recruiting.

I put a lot of good people in the Army. Now I'm seeing Cat 4s ("rocks") accepted for enlistment and everyone, it would seem, is going after the money, yourself encluded.
I'm happy you're having such a good time. I did 11B, jumped out of C140s, repelled from UH-1s, did S4 time in Heidelberger and froze in Graff. No hero here. Just an old soldier.
So my question is; are you in it for the press or the money?

Posted by: SFC Roberts | September 15, 2005 04:07 PM

I wonder how many young recruits unwittingly signed the "wrong" contract or retreated in the face of terse dismissals from a clerk?

The military is, potentially, an excellent choice for a very large percentage of young people. However, many newly minted high school graduates naively assume that the military is "honest" and, therefore, that the contract contains everything the recruiter has promised.

Unfortunately, dealing with today's military is just like dealing with any profit-oriented corporation. Buyers, especially 18 year old buyers, beware.

Posted by: D. Feger | September 16, 2005 10:14 AM

I am sure if something gets missed in the contract that when the records went to state or the next level that it would get caught. In the Army National Guard the SRIP "Selective Reserve Incentive Program" has everything you get for that job and so on, and some stuff is based on the ASVAB score as well. So i'm sure and have heard of things getting missed and fixed later on. I have served in the Army National Guard for 9 years as a 63T Track Mechanic. The military makes it right, sometimes it may take some time but for me any thing that gets messed up has always gotten fixed. I'm not on here arguing but to state that the military isn't trying to get by with giving someone $15,000 instead of $20,000 bonus's and crap, from my understanding it is what it is and you can't negotiate it.
P.S. I always tell my younger troops to read everything and to make sure it is all there when you sign for it as well. It's a great idea to do that.
Good luck in your VAARNG career!

Posted by: Casey | April 19, 2006 02:29 PM

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