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With a high school junior, we've been hitting the college fairs and career fairs lately. "So what have you got in mind?" I asked him. I know that he's been interested in computers and software as a career. "Dad," he said, "I've been thinking about the Army, maybe ROTC." "Oh yeah? What area?" thinking he might look into some kind of tech training. "Infantry." [Sound of jaw dropping.]

I tried to draw out his reasons. "Well, Dad, they have medical and dental benefits." So I explained that for something like engineering, the job should include benefits like medical, dental, retirement, continued training...

With four kids, helping with college will be a little tight, but we can swing it with loans, etc., and I wouldn't want him to make a military commitment because of money. We also talked about how job satisfaction comes from a combination of pay + benefits + what you do + who you work with + where you work + who you work for + other stuff. Was he thinking of the Army because of the perceived need for college help, or because he wanted to serve his country in that way? It looks like the latter.

He's a smart kid--science fair awards, honor society. He knows that the "real thing" isn't as bad as Oliver Stone portrayed in "Platoon," or as "fun" as the Ghost Recon game. Both his grandfathers carried M1s through Korea, but that topic doesn't come up much since one isn't around any more and the other lives in another state.

Like I said, I don't want him to think that's the only way of financing a college education, but I don't want to discourage him if that's really his calling. I would be proud if he chose to serve in the Army.

But now I'm stuck. Do any of you have advice or know of resources for this? Thanks.
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