Several months ago my senior told me that he wanted to join the Navy Reserves. It was one of those moments where I just looked at him and blinked. I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.
Matthew Edward Doerneman was serious.
As he worked with the Navy recruiter, he became super serious. As part of the process, we asked him to speak with some people that were in the Navy. He did. We did. All was going well.
I wrote about the first leg of this journey in this post, “How My Fourth Kid Surprised Me.”
Matthew was scheduled to go to Kansas City on a Friday, where he’d do his medical screening and if he passed, he would sign up for the Navy Reserves. On Wednesday of that week I went out to lunch with a dear friend, Barb.
I was anxious to have lunch with her because I knew she’d have some inside scoop for me; her son is a T-38 Flight Instructor, meaning he is a pilot and he teaches recruits how to FLY a FIGHTER PLANE. No big deal. Holy Crap.
As we talked about our sons, she filled me in on much. MUCH.
By the end of our lunch, I was in a pickle. I could see that Matthew had not really looked seriously at the Air Force Reserves.
And here’s why.
A NAVY recruiter went to his high school. A NAVY recruiter told the kids about the NAVY. Matthew showed interest in the NAVY.
The NAVY recruiter invested into my son.
Matthew was wearing the NAVY hat. Literally.
After speaking with Barb, however, I knew Matthew had other options.
I’m grateful for my friend and I write this for all parents that are on the journey:
5 Tips if Your Child Wants to Join the Military:
Tip Number One:
Investigate EACH BRANCH.
Speak with a recruiter from The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Each has its specialty. Each has its claim to fame.
Tip Number Two:
Find out what your child really wants.
Now, that’s easier said than done. After all, we’re talking about a 17-year old. Does any high school senior know what they want?
But we had to figure out what was driving our son. Did he have a special place in his heart for the Navy? (My brother and dad were in the Navy.) Or did the first recruiter just get the first dance?
In the end, Matthew wanted to serve and he wanted extra money for college. Our job, as parents, was to help him get what he REALLY wanted and to not get
manipulated swayed by a friendly recruiter.
Tip Number Three:
Find out EXACTLY what each branch offers.
This means asking lots of questions. Getting everything down on paper.
Matthew only knew about the Navy. He was excited about a possible $10,000 signing bonus with the Navy Reserves. The criteria: he had to get a higher score on his ASVAB test. Well, he did that. So he was salivating about the bonus.
My husband and I told our anxious son to cancel the KC signing and get more info. “The only time you have control is now, before you sign. Get more info.”
Matthew was not happy about that. This little drama could have been avoided if we would have sought more input first. So gather info first. Put options on paper. And take your time.
Kudos to Matthew, he did cancel his signing. It was extremely difficult, but he did it.
He contacted the Air Force Reserves.
Wowsa. There are differences.
The bonuses are bigger in the Air Force. And it seems the “quality of life” is better in the Air Force. Now, I have no idea what that means exactly, but my friend who served in the Navy told me that the Air Force likes their comfort.
Tip Number Four:
See how you, as the parent, can participate in the decision making process.
I will be honest, I didn’t like how the Navy Reserves wanted Matthew to make some major decisions on his own. For example, when he was scheduled to go to Kansas City for his medical screening, they also wanted him to sign up for his training.
(In the reserves, a recruit qualifies for certain jobs. The recruit gets to choose which one suits him or her best.)
In the Air Force Reserves, the job options are given in Kansas City but the recruit comes home and discusses the options with family before he signs.
I liked that. It made more sense to me.
In the end, these were the choices given to Matthew for The Air Force Reserves:
- Boom Operator
- Mechanical Engineer
- Black Box Tech
He was able to think and pray about it between his KC trip and his actual signing.
Tip Number Five:
Be Proud of Your Child.
Joining the military is a big deal and something to celebrate!
That being said, there is a little more to the Mommy Heart part of this story…stay tuned.