Joining the Navy

America. F Yeah.

Well, I feel like the biggest change from March, my last real post, to right now is that I joined the Navy. Shortly after graduating, I realized that I hated the jobs that I was applying for. I spent months talking with financial institutions, hospitals, and small advertising firms about finding a job I would like. I really do like the advertising industry, but I felt like all of these jobs were just awful. I don’t want to advertise for a bank. I don’t want to advertise healthcare. I don’t want to work for a 5 man advertising team in Nebraska (this was a real offer). And most of all, I didn’t want to deal with the problems of pay and long-term financial insecurity. Some of the figures I was being thrown were 22k a year with minor benefits and the possibility to work up to 30k a year. Really? I feel like I could make more working in the oil field, a job which isn’t too stressful and I can at least enjoy being outside. Actually, it was, but more on this later.

So, I walked in to the Navy recruiter office and told them to sign me up. In my mind, I felt like the following week I would be shipped out to basic and sailing the seas in a couple months. Ha, what a joke that is. There’s an absolutely huge amount of paperwork, and then you have to go to a place called MEPS, which is a poor acronym because it actually stands for hell (or Military Entrance Processing), and then after that they tell you to wait a year to ship. Yeah, really. A year. What am I supposed to do to pay my loans in that time? I actually rushed into this whole gig because I didn’t do my research. I had a passion and I wanted to follow up on this. For the astute followers of me, this should be no surprise — I’ve been talking about joining the Navy for years. However, with a college degree, I was able to build a really strong officer’s package to get a commission. But, without knowing this at the time, I enlisted first, originally as an AECF (Advanced Electronic Computer Field) and then later in the Nuclear field.

As an aside, I was told this is the hardest field to get into, but the tests they gave me were pretty much a joke. (If I recall correctly, I made a 94 on the ASVAB and I didn’t even bother to work the problems, I just guessed based on the answer choices so that I could finish and get back to a client.)I’m not particularly bright when it comes to math, but then again, these tests are made for, and I hesitate to say, high school kids. I am guessing that a lot of how the Navy communicates information to people in the DEP (Delayed Enlistment Program) is based on the fact that they are mostly very young, mostly with only a high school education, and mostly not mature enough to think about the gravity and depth of their commitments. And the Navy caters to this. (Kids ask questions about how cool the uniforms are between branches and don’t bother to ask things about military benefit packages and retirement options.) But, when it comes to the more serious questions, that really should be up to the applicant and the individual recruiter, something that is handled extremely effectively. There’s no BS when you try to find things out and it’s obvious you are looking for the straight answer. I respect this, and I understand why the messages are conveyed in the way they are. I feel like the shortcoming is more on the side of the kids who are joining with no clue what they are in for, so they don’t know what to ask. They will surely understand once they are in, and I think this is a good thing that they are given a dose of reality, something which college, on the other hand, helps avoid for several years. So I guess this aside is basically suggesting that high school kids are clueless because the Navy actually does try their best to prepare the kids. I’m sure that when I graduated high school I thought I was informed. I’m sure I think I’m informed now. I’ll look back on this and likely think that I was just as much, or more of, an idiot for suggesting what I’m suggesting.

Anyway, to continue, the enlisted side is now just considered a fallback if my officer’s package doesn’t go through. I feel like, honestly, I would be happy in whatever position in the Navy, but I’m looking to make this a career, so starting as an officer first seems more like the logical progression. November 15th is my review board which will establish my commission as either one of the following (or nothing at all!): Public Affairs Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, or Supply Officer. Obviously, I’m really trying hard to get the commission as a PAO — this is my passion. I love this stuff, and I live for doing research and planning ways to spread messages more effectively. Real nerd stuff that a communication major with lots of hands on experience gets into. I’m told, however, that this position is basically impossible to get. But basically impossible doesn’t mean impossible, so I’m still trying. Do advertising and marketing for the world’s largest Naval power? Hell yes. This whips the ass of doing something meaningless like advertising for healthcare systems. (Sorry healthcare, I know you’ve been a good source of income over the years!)

I feel like any position is fine, even Supply — that is, after all, a huge logistical nightmare to plan out and I love a challenge, but I’m hoping — no, praying — to get the PAO slot. I will do everything in my power to make the Navy’s PAO program proud. So, I guess it’s somewhat a patriotic goal, but also such a huge career goal, and it’s something I feel like I will enjoy. I get it, I’m repeating myself, but it’s honestly all I think about every day and has been since the day I joined the Navy. I won’t stop until I get this, no matter what it takes or where it takes me.

In the end though, this is just a collection of thoughts that have been mulling over in my head since the day I walked into the recruiter’s officer. I can’t wait to get a definite ship date and then to get out of Midland. Please, get me out of here.

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