Veteran Elite – Why you should Ditch the Debt Train and Join the Military!

Uncle Sam

By: Heero Yuy

Someone asked about the barriers to entry to the job market and the necessity of incurring debt from getting a college education. Here is my response from Post on how to circumvent the debt part, have fun, and get ahead in the game. Enjoy!

US Military

Service Academy or Scholarship Route
Get a free degree from US Federal Service Academies (Army, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines) OR the ROTC route (possibly NUPOC or BDCP [Navy programs, go see ]).

  • Do your time and bank six figures for five (5) years guaranteed
  • Do three more to get 100% of your Post-911 GI Bill. Puts you at Eight (8) total post college
  • Get out earlier with a smaller portion of GI Bill and use Yellow Ribbon for M7 MBA

Officer Candidate School Route

  • Get degree from a very cheap University next to free (State school scholarship loopholes or scholarships)
  • Join any branch as an Officer
  • Take the GMAT before getting out, it is free (one time)
  • Get out after minimum four (4) year commitment with 100% Post-911 GI Bill
  • Get into M7 and use GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon for minimum debt load


Active Duty DoD: Total Comp for Junior Officers (O-3 with four years or less) is $90-110K stationed in CONUS and $110-130K stationed Overseas (+$10-30K more at least if you are deployed in a War Zone. Whole paycheck is Tax-free and you get additional things like Hazard Duty Pay, Jump Pay, etc). This includes a TON of tax-free benefits and free perks such as:

  • Food Allowance (BAS)
  • Housing Allowance (BAH or OHA)
  • Oversea Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
  • Free Dental
  • Free Medical
  • Free Prescriptions and anything else Health related
  • Access to the Commissary (Grocery store) and the Exchange (Wal-mart) which are all Tax-Free
  • A bunch of other subsidized entertainment, education, and resources
  • Secret or Top Secret Security Clearance (worth a lot to employers if they are looking for those with this gem)

All those are taken into consideration when calculating the approximate total compensation. I was clearing about $3400 net every other paycheck living in Japan as a junior O-2. Not a bad life! Every year for the past decades the Military has gotten across the board pay increases of 1-3% (inflation adjustment) in addition to the regular rank and time-in-service pay bumps.

Reserves: You can choose to join the reserves to keep some of the aforementioned Active Duty perks with weekend drills during your MBA program and get paid for drilling. Continuity can lead to a pension program that you can draw on starting at age 60.

Merchant Marines: Starting Salary for US Merchant Marines (Captain Phillips and Crew) is around $12-14k/month as an Engineer or Mate. More on this later if anyone is interested in this career (badass experience and all the perks of the US Navy with none of the bullshit. Personally shook hands with a 32 year old Captain [think Managing Director] of a mega military container ship. Works only half the year [2-3month on, 2-3month off, rinse and repeat] and takes off the rest clearing $250-300K a year. Never seen a happier sailor in my life.). Harbor Pilots, the folks who taxi cargo ships from the Ocean into the Harbor, consider minimum wage to be $250K a year and they average around $450-500K with the more senior Pilots clearing well above $600K at the busier Ports. Drive ships or manage Analysts/Associates/VPs? Desk job vs Adrenaline Job. Up to you. 🙂 Merchants are also eligible for the Reserves in addition to having their own pension from their respective Unions.

Post-Service MBA rebrand Option

M7 MBA is Veteran friendly typically having an existing Veterans Network. Chat up current students and Vet Network for assistance and apply with a GMAT 700+. They value the leadership and perspective from a military Veteran in that classroom setting when everyone else has been doing battle with Excel, Ballpoint Bic Pens, and Clickers for “Next Slide” during PowerPoint presentations. Tales of leadership under duress is a case study in and of itself.

Bottomline: Join the Military, See the World. You’ll come out the other side as a Leader with a degree, experience, and money in the bank. This enables you to apply to M7 MBA program and be a favored candidate to get another prestigious degree for nearly FREE. Afterwards, you can go hear others whine about the fact that you now have Veterans preferences, an M7 MBA, and a host of other excuses that makes you more employable vs the Average Joe.

Lastly, we have the Public Health Services; not as sexy but also uniform option:

Footnote: Pricetag on freedom can be steep. You are risking your life for a greater good and getting a degree as a secondary effect. By being in this elite club, you have exclusive access to one of the finest networks in America as a Veteran.

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