REVIEW THE ENLISTMENT CONTRACT BEFORE MEETING WITH A RECRUITER, ANY RECRUITER.
This short contract is full of legalese, you need a non-military-connected lawyer to decipher it, NOT an inexperienced high school student, betting his/her life on his/her understanding during the recruiter-programmed two-to-three-minute scan as the recruiter typically keeps yammering on about what a great future you have in that particular military branch.
It is typically sprung on prospective enlistees after various “bonding sessions” as “I’ve been explaining what the military is like and (trust me) this is just a formality, so just initial here, here and here and sign here.”
Notice that Paragraph 8.a. through c. is for the DEP sign-up, only, NOT for the eight-year enlistment conditions!
Use Sections 8 (BEFORE Section 8a) and 13a, to carefully (in blue ink) detail, by title and date, the list of agreements/assurances made by the recruiting office, and BE SURE to have the recruiting COMMANDING OFFICER (the C.O.) sign that annex. (Technically, by military contract law, a non-commissioned officer - which the recruiter you’ve been dealing with will be - cannot sign a legally binding contract…. Note Section 19 for an officer signature). Your recruiter may cite a Vocal Order of the Commander (a VOCO) as his authority to sign off on an Annex, but such a VOCO may conflict with the wording/provisions of Sections 8.c. and 13.a.
(NOTE the SPECIFIC CAUTION of paragraph 8.c.)
DO NOT think the back of the contract can be used for an Annex… it most likely won’t be copied.
Note Section 9.a.(1): “obey all lawful orders” and “perform all assigned duties” can and, at times, ARE mutually exclusive. The Nuremburg war crimes trials following WWII often came down to just that, that same dichotomy…. “I was just following orders,” yet MURDER was as unlawful in Germany then as it is now. (see our Section on “Atrocities and War Crimes”).
Be aware of Section 9.b.: This is a “universal out” on thee part of the military that can negate your whole “contract.” As it is FAR easier to draft a military regulation without elected politicians approving of it as it is a law to get through the Congressional and Presidential review process. Laws are passed by Congress and signed by the President, Regulations can be issued by the DoD, or a military Branch without elected official reviews.
Notice that Sections 8, 13a and 14 may appear to be somewhat contradictory, but they, in fact force a prospective enlistee to PTSOP (put that s_ _ _ on paper) something he/she as a high school student and probably quite conscious of apparent “authority” (the recruiter), may not be particularly proficient at. BUT this is the best negotiation time the prospective recruit may have literally for years, and he/she either takes advantage of the situation or loses the opportunity because, once you’re IN the military, you’re NOT encouraged to question.
Basically, write in WHATEVER you desire from an enlistment. The worst that can happen is a ”NO”… the best that can happen is you’ll be labeled “too curious” or “unfit for military life” and won’t be bothered by them again. On the other hand, what if your stated desires actually opens a true dialog and, as the recruiter(s) start saying WHY they can’t answer or provide that, you may begin learning more military truth from those not being paid to tell that truth.
I once had a quite bright high school client whom I had specifically directed to read the Contract before I’d meet with him. After our session, at his request I accompanied him back to the Medford recruiting office, only to find it closed on Saturday morning, so my client called his recruiter at home, as the recruiter had told him. The recruiter couldn’t understand HOW my client had a copy of the Contract and my client simply said “the internet” (Yup, my website!)
When my client started asking questions the recruiter couldn’t answer, the recruiter claimed he’d never seen the DD Form 4, in fact didn’t think they had any in the office. That immediately implied four things that my client immediately caught on to:
1. The recruiter had never enlisted? or
2. The recruiter had never gone through recruiting school or had slept all through it (and, believe me, THAT is quite possible, or
3. That particular recruiting office was simply a poorly-run boondoggle, and/or
4. That recruiter had never signed anyone up for that military branch, because Block (or Section) 14 of the Contract SPECIFICALLY calls for the immediate recruiter’s signature!
That phone call ended when my client told his recruiter where he could go and it wasn’t back to recruiting school!