Intangible qualities like leadership, comraderie, discipline and determination are perhaps the most rewarding of all military benefits. Still, it's nice to know that service in the Military comes with tangible benefits too, including education, medical/dental care, 30 days of paid vacation, travel discounts and more.
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Education and Salary
Everyone in the Military is trained in a job specialty. Many military schools offer high-tech training. Some are accredited so you earn college credits as you receive job training. Your aptitudes, physical abilities, motivation and determination help decide which military career best suits you. And most military jobs have a civilian counterpart so you'll have a head start if you decide to leave the Military.
Money for College
During and after your time in service, the Military encourages you to advance your education. To that end, there are many programs designed to help you pay for college—even medical school. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, loan repayment programs, tuition assistance and college credit for training are some of the available options.
Pay, Allowances and Promotions
Service members are paid twice a month based on pay grade, service requirements and time in service. A paycheck generally consists of base pay plus special pays and allowances, if a service member is eligible.
There are many different types of allowances, including the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (to pay for food), cost-of-living adjustments and so on.
The Military promotes people based on a combination of job knowledge and performance, time served at that level, physical fitness and the needs of the Service. Individuals joining the enlisted ranks are typically promoted three times during the first four-year enlistment. Officers are usually promoted twice during the same period.
In the Military, you receive 30 days of paid vacation each year, compared to the standard two weeks for entry-level civilian careers. What's more, service members often have access to free or low-cost travel throughout the world on military aircraft.
Free Health Care
Active-duty military members receive medical and dental care at no cost. Care and wellness programs are available through a system of military and civilian health-care facilities. In addition, the spouse and dependent children of an active-duty member may also enroll in military health care (a small enrollment fee and annual deductible may apply).
Life insurance is a policy that financially supports the family and friends of an individual who dies. As an active-duty member, you may select up to $400,000 in Service Group Life Insurance at a cost of only $29 a month, which is automatically deducted from your paycheck.
Savings and Assistance
All service members are covered automatically by the Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System (BRS), which automatically sets aside 3% of your basic pay in a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for retirement (you can adjust your contribution according to IRS limits). The services will match your contribution after two years, which is also when that savings is yours to take with you, even if you leave the Military.
Some service members make a career of the Military, and those who do are well compensated. After 20 years of service (and reaching age 60 for Reserve and Guard), you have two options:
- Receive a defined benefit, which is a monthly pension for life that's calculated based on your highest 36 months of basic pay and years of service
- Receive a lump sum, which is a discounted portion (25 or 50 percent) of your retirement, paid either all at once or distributed annually for up to four years. This means your defined benefit payment is reduced until you reach full retirement age.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides dozens of federal benefits to veterans and their dependents, including VA home loans, educational assistance, disability compensation and more. As a military veteran, you may apply for a home loan that is guaranteed by the federal government.
Other Lifestyle Benefits
To thank and support those who serve, many companies extend special deals and discounts to current and former service members. These aren't official DoD-supplied benefits, but they are a great gesture of thanks and can be a real additional benefit.
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