Need advice on the 18X Option.

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Forever Steadfast

May 5, 2011
Before anyone asks, I have searched the forums prior to asking this question, but it seems that if anyone else has posted with this kind of question I've missed the thread.

Anyway... Here goes:

As I stated earlier in my introduction (posted about five minutes ago), I'm a prior service sailor. Did one enlistment as a Master at Arms out on NAVSTA Everett.

I'm currently looking to get back into the service. I've been dealing with the Navy for the past five months now, but due to their increased downsizing, its been a pain in the butt getting anywhere with the process. Five months now, and I haven't even been up to MEPs for my Medical screening. So, I turned to the Army. Unfortunately, the Sgt I spoke to there said due to my prior service, and the fact that I got out as an E-4, I have no options besides the Reserves or 18X.

Now, this is what I have to ask:

I'm not a SF kind of guy. I just don't have the passion to be such a highly trained operative. If I had, I would have gone SEAL or SWCC instead of Master at Arms, while I was enlisting with the Navy. However, I've heard from two different Army recruiters and my best friend (a newly-graduated Green Beret) that I can go in, complete OSUT and Airborne, and then drop my contract before SOPC, and be re-assigned to either a basic infantry unit or an Airborne unit.

I know that this is looked down upon within the SF community and I mean no disrespect, but let me explain my current situation here. I'm not eligible for the Air Force or the Marine Corps due to my extensive tattoos, and the Coast Guard has an impossible waiting list. A year ago I decided to move down to Savannah, GA with a friend and start fresh. That all went to hell. I won't go into details, because they aren't necessary, but I had to end up sacrificing all of my savings and sell my car just to survive. Therefore, I'm pretty much in a bind here on the civilian side.

And to be honest, I miss the military like hell. It was the one thing that I did well. I miss the hard work, the camaraderie and the feeling like you accomplished something great at the end of the day. Yes, I had my moments of bitching, but what service member doesn't? Overall, I loved my Active Duty experience.

I have no intention on going to the Reserves. The program I enlisted under with the Navy was called National Call to Service. For those of you who aren't familiar with such a program (which has ceased to exist, as I've been told), it had you serve two years on Active Duty and then two years in the Active Reserves. Upon enlisting, I was told by my recruiter that I could submit a request chit and extend my active duty service if I ended up enjoying it. However, upon getting to "A" School, most of my instructors laughed, saying that it was almost impossible to extend at that point in time. I learned this the hard way once I hit the fleet and actually sent in my extension request. Even with my chain of command's recommendation, I was still denied extension and sent to the Reserves.

I won't go into detail here - as not to offend any Reservists - but I hated the Reserves. Compared to Active Duty, it was slow paced and completely disorganized. So, I'm weary of choosing any other Reserve programs. I want Active Duty, and if it means using a "unorthodox" method of achieving that, I'll do it.

I need to know the risks I would run if I were to choose 18x merely to go Airborne. It is - at this time - my only feasible option to see Active Duty in the Army. And God knows I'll be waiting a year or more given the rate that the Navy's going. So, I'm kind of between a rock and a hard place, but before I make such a step, I would like to hear advice from prior or current Green Berets.

Once again, I know that this isn't exactly the most honorable route. However, any constructive advice would be welcome.
I know about the call to service thing, recruiter almost got me with that too. As for joining as an 18x and not doing it, you do realize that you will be an airborne infantryman right? If you don't have the personality for SF, what makes you think you have the mentality for the infantry. You are also sucking up bonus money that you don't deserve, and also taking a contract someone else may want. But I respect that you can admit to yourself that that is not what you want.
Have you spoken to other Army recruiters to confirm the Reserve/18x only route?
I've been offered no signing bonus, so I won't be sucking up any bonus money. And as for the infantry - I won't pretend to know how it feels, but being a Master at Arms not only gave me weapons training, but our department was also big on PT. Our Army equivalent would have been MP. Our rate has changed over the years to be split between Security and Law Enforcement. While most of my training was more Law Enforcement-orientated, I am no stranger to stress or "humping" it.

Given that, I don't have any experience being an infantryman, but who of us does have any experience in the MOS or rate they're going into before they take that plunge? I've had friends in Airborne, my best friend (the Green Beret) was a Ranger prior to SF, and all of them have agreed that I would be fine in an infantry unit - on a PT and motivational level.
To Pardus,

Yes - I called two other recruiting stations to confirm what the Sgt said. I didn't want to walk into another recruiter's trap. And as the one particular Sgt said, they confirmed. Given my time in service and the pay grade I left, I only have Reserves or 18x. Had I worked in certain fields, like Medical or Aviation, I could join up as the Army equivalent, but the Army isn't hard-pressed for MPs at this time. :/
FWIW: The Coast Guard is a strange beastie. There may be a waiting list in your AO but not in the next state over. Inland states will have spots still available when the coastal states are full.

Not sure about prior service but try calling a recruiter in a different sector.
That makes no sense.
If you were a Navy Medic they'd still make you go through Army Medic MOS training. So what's the difference to them?

Not saying you are wrong, just that it makes no sense... it is the Military though which makes making no sense make perfect sense. :confused:
The way the Sgt explained to me, because of the downsizing that the Army is also going through, prior enlisted are some of the first to be limited due to the influx of recruits. However, the Army is willing to make an exception if you have training in a field they need. He didn't mention whether I would go to the Army's school for the particular field or not, so I can't tell anything more about that. It seems that the military, in general, isn't very welcoming of prior service (or so my experience so far has shown), especially with the manning levels they're at at this point.

As one recruiter told me:

"Your first enlistment, they need you. Your second, you need them."

I know both AF and Navy Medics that have been made to go through Army Medical AIT.
One was and E5 one was and E8.
I'm not surprised.

I'd always heard that if I were to re-enlist in any other branch, but the Marine Corps, I wouldn't have to attend boot again. But it turns out that if I were to take this program, I'd have to go through Army boot because of the whole OSUT thing - which I'm not opposed to. Just another thing I found out, that I hadn't known before.

However, I just want to know that I'm not cutting my own throat here if I were to drop my contract after Airborne school. I've done a bit of searching online, and have found its rather common for guys to drop either before SOPC, during SOPC or during SFAS. But I was also told that I could potentially get discharged for dropping my contract. I've never seen anyone in the Navy discharged for not completing their training. For SEAL candidates, if they fail BUDS, they're sent to the fleet "undesignated" or - if they're very lucky - to another "A" school. So I can't imagine the Army's much different, after having spent the money and time on sending you through OSUT and Airborne.

One guy dropped from my "A" School class and was sent to another school, and that was after he chickened out of being sprayed by OC and punching a wall in frustration (thus breaking his hand).
There are quite a few guys who use the 18X program to get to ABN then Voluntarily Withdraw (VW) from the program. There are also quite a few who quit at SOPC and SFAS (never understood the quitter mentality) for a wide variety of reasons, none of which really matter.

When I was in the course those who VW'd didnt really fair too well when it came time for assignments to be passed out. I know for a fact the cadre did everything possible to get guys assignments to Korea, Alaska, etc etc... instead of to places like the 82nd, or 173rd ABN...
To be honest, I wouldn't mind getting stationed in Alaska or Korea. I don't say this to be a smart ass, I say it because it would mean still being in uniform. I don't have many choices here, nor the means to pursue much. When I say I sacrificed everything in Savannah, I mean everything. And there's a pride inside of me that refuses to settle for working at a fast food joint. That same pride is what propels me to go back into the service - I don't want to settle for less.

Duty in certain locations, under certain commands may suck - bad - but its still service, a paycheck, benefits and a chance to get back on my feet, you know? I definitely wouldn't be looking into SF if I could go in under other means, but I've hit a wall here.
I'd call HRC in VA, a quick google search can do wonders. Get ahold of someone in USAREC, tell them what you want and make it happen. Not 4 or 5 years ago, and everyone here can attest, I was told no every day when coming back in. I got the job I wanted regardless. Don't take no for an answer. There's always someone else to call/piss off.
.... I'm not eligible for the Air Force or the Marine Corps due to my extensive tattoos....

You have tattoos on your neck (above the collar to include the face and shaven head), and your hands?

Thats so weird- I have too many friends to count that have full sleeves prior to getting in that had no issue. And guys that, since getting in, have gotten thousands of dollars in tatts.
I have two small tattoos on my hands, but what the Marines didn't like was the fact that the tattoos on my wrist are closer than two inches to the hand. I have full sleeves as well, and the Army see's no problem with them; neither does the Navy.
My question has yet to be answered. I've received many insightful responses on enlistment options, and a plethora of questions, but I have yet to receive an answer. The only close answer I've received is from Surgicalcric. So, not to be a complete dick here, but can we please stay on topic here? I've come to you guys for serious answers, because this will give me insight on the decision I must make for my future. I realize, in the end, it comes down to me, but I respect each and every opinion posted here.
We call them job stoppers down here.

The problem I see is of convincing them that you really want to go 18X, I imagine there is some sort of psych profiling done? If you're not 100% committed are they going to be able to pick up on it?
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