1) Recruiters are not guidance counselors. They are interested in you because if they don’t meet their quota of recruits, they can be forced to work overtime or be punished other ways. One veteran recruiter told a reporter for the Albany Times Union, “I’ve been recruiting for years and I don’t know one recruiter who wasn’t dishonest about it. I did it myself.”
2) Get a copy of the military enlistment agreement (Form DD4) and read it carefully, especially page two, before you sign any papers. Download it here: http://www.projectyano.org/pdf/dd0004.pdf
3) Talk the enlistment agreement over with your parents and friends, or with a counselor from the GI Rights Hotline. Ask about any parts of the agreement that you don’t understand.
4) Take along a parent or friend as a witness if you go see a recruiter. Then you’ll have somebody to back up your side of the story if there is a dispute over what was promised.
5) If you have a police record or medical condition, don’t hide it, even if the recruiter tells you it doesn’t matter.
6) GET ALL PROMISES IN WRITING and have them signed by the recruitment representative! Spoken promises are worthless, but also remember that even written ones can be changed under the contract.
7) Get copies of everything you sign. Keep them in a safe place.
8) If you want a special enlistment option, be sure to ask the recruiter questions like the following:
- For how long do I have to enlist to get this option?
- Are there any extra requirements (schooling, physical standards, security clearance, etc.) that I have to meet to qualify for this option? What happens if I don’t meet them, but I’ve already enlisted?
- What if there is no space later in the training program or job that I signed up for?
- For options that include assignment to a particular base or area: Am I guaranteed this assignment for the entire time I’m in?
9) REMEMBER: If you don’t like your new job, they don’t have to let you switch, and you can’t quit! Early discharges can be hard to get without a penalty.