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August 2000
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I am considering joining the military and was recently talking with a recruiter. He said that I could give the military a try to see if I liked it and if I didn’t like it after 6 months, I could automatically get out of the military. Is this true and how does it work?

What you were told is not true. There is no such thing as a "trial period," a "period of adjustment," or a chance to get a "flavor of the military." It is one of the biggest recruiting myths. Once you start basic training, you cannot just leave the military if you decide you donít like it or change your mind. At that point, you are obligated to fulfill the terms of your enlistment agreement.

Some people do leave the military during the first several months, but not for the reason that the recruiter told you. The military can decide that you are "unsuitable" and discharge you without your consent. Some reasons for discharge are health and discipline. These discharges can potentially have negative consequences, for instance making it harder to get a job once you are out.

If you do get caught in a jam after you have already started basic training, you can get help, but it isnít as easy as your recruiter made it sound. Call the GI Rights Hotline at (800) 394-9544.

You can, however, change your mind before you enter basic training, if you are enrolled in the Delayed Enlistment Program. If you are unsure if the military is right for you, be sure to get your questions and concerns addressed before you go to basic training. Seek other opinions, such as those of veterans, and think about what you want to do with the next few years of your life. Look for alternatives.

Donít fall prey to this military recruiting mythĖyou canít get out after "trying out the military for a few months."

Staying out is easier than getting out.

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