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Basic Questions about BCT and Enlistment

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  • Basic Questions about BCT and Enlistment

    So, I see a lot of "Basic Question" threads on here, I've gone through a few of them but they don't answer some of my questions. I want to apologize as I'm sure you guys and girls get these asked often.

    First off, let me introduce myself. My name is John, I'm from NYC. I am currently 21 years old, soon to be 22. I am employed, though I come from a low-income family and don't have much financial support aside from my father who I currently live with. I am getting older, I want to be financially independent so when the time comes where my father can no longer support me I will be able to do so myself. I'm interested in joining the Guard for a few reasons. The biggest is that monthly check and the benefits that come along with joining. Another is I am attracted to the disciplined lifestyle that comes with being a member of the armed forces. My biggest, main reason for wanting to join though...is my life is kind of a mess. I have no family, not a lot of friends, barely a job that I can support myself with and to be quite honest...I need to start a new chapter in my life. I'm scared, hesitant, excited, happy, sad, all these emotions plus more but I feel ready to take the next step.

    As for my questions...perhaps I should just go ahead and ask them.

    1. Hair - I understand when you arrive at BCT, you are immediately given a shaven head. That is fine with me, hair grows back. I currently maintain a mohawk. I trim it myself, I maintain a #2 on the sides and between a #3 and #4 on the top. I assume this would not be allowed after the initial BCT period? I understand the guard is about uniformity and not uniqueness, however having a sense of individuality is important to me, though not something I'd be unwilling to give up for a period of time if it means becoming a national guard member.

    2. Physical fitness - I am currently around 145 pounds, 6'2. I am not in perfect physical fitness, however I am slim and have a fast metabolism thus I believe I will have no problem gaining muscle and putting on some weight. The physical tests are not a major worry for me, I am sure what ever I lack during the initial tests I will be able to make up for in the coming days that BCT begins. What kind of tests can I expect? Work outs, exercises, etc. I understand Push Ups, Sit-ups and Runs are the basics of it. What else can I expect and what can I do to start preparing now?

    3. Pay + Benefits - My main reason for wanting to join is the pay. I need a monthly income and my lifestyle right now is not cutting it. If I continue doing what I am doing, my father will soon be dead and I will be without family or a means of supporting myself. Inevitably I see myself becoming homeless if I don't make a change in my life, thus I am turning to the National Guard. What kind of pay can I expect? I understand we are paid nicely during the 8 or so weeks that BCT includes, as well as being paid a small check once a month during the 2-day a month training periods. Does the pay during and after BCT make it possible for one to support themselves? What kind of benefits am I looking at? Will my enlistment affect my Social Security benefits? To be honest, I am not sure why I receive SSI checks, but it is more than likely from a disability my parents signed me up for when I was very young (I went to Special Education my entire life due to ADHD and extreme behavioral problems as a child, though I no longer suffer from any such problems or disabilities). I assume once I enlist I will no longer receive this check which I use to support myself monthly. Will my "disability" prevent me from joining? What kind of problems can I expect?

    These are all I can really think of at the moment. I'd appreciate any responses, advice, tips, etc. Thank you

  • #2
    Re: Basic Questions about BCT and Enlistment

    First off, welcome to the forum! Here's some answers to your questions:

    1) Hair standards: You are correct, when you get to initial training all males will be given a hair cut to Arm Standards. A mohawk does not meet that standard so you can expect to go without it during both BCT and AIT. Outside of initial training, you can have as long of hair as you'd like, until drill weekend. Then, you'll need to have it trimmed to standard. You can find more information in AR 670-1, chapter 1-8.

    2) Sounds like you've got the basics down on what you can expect physically. You can anticipate taking several Army Physical Fitness Tests (APFTs) while at BCT to gauge your progress. For information on how those work, I would recommend browsing the fitness section on the National Guard website.

    3) A word on benefits. One thing you will need to come to terms with is that being a National Guard Soldier is a "part time" job. That means you will only be drilling one week a month and two weeks during the year, leaving you available to go back to school, work a full time job, or pursue whatever goals you have during your civilian life. It's quite an opportunity being able to do both! The downside to this is that you won't qualify for the full benefits you would get if you were Active Duty Army. That means, if you are looking for a pay check that can fully support you and/or free health insurance, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Most new enlisted Soldier's come out of a drill weekend making around $100-200, give or take. While I'm entirely for the National Guard, I might suggest looking into an Active Duty if you are needing real income and an opportunity to change your financial lifestyle. Again, take some time on the National Guard website to learn about the basics.

    As to your disability, ADHD is not an automatic disqualification. However, there are some guidelines you will have to meet.

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    • #3
      Re: Basic Questions about BCT and Enlistment

      Wow, I was considered skinny being 175lbs and 6'2 back then. You do not meet the minimum weight required for your height which is 148lbs. So definitely get started sooner, rather than later. Your "fast" metabolism will diminish as you get older. You'll look and feel better when you've filled out. Especially in uniform.
      Last edited by SteveLord; February 4th, 2013, 01:15 PM.

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