I have seen several posts about what life will be like in the Navy. I would like to give you my personal take on the situation.
1) It is the MILITARY. Therefore expect to be given orders by people who out rank you; be told how to dress; how to get your hair cut (and that you can't dye it orange); when to study; when you have free time; if you are allowed to drive and how you should live your life. Expect to have Discipline. This is because we hold ourselves to a higher standard then the rest of society. I couldn't sleep well at night if the force that protects our freedom and represents us to the world was a motley crew of sloppy deviants.
2) It is a Job. "A fair day's work for a fair day's wage." You will be on a salaried job during your time in the Navy. Just like in the civilian sector this means that the number of hours you work has no bearing on what you get paid. Some days will be 18 hour days and some will be 2 depending on what is going on. Just like a civilian job we will expect you to be on time, look good and do your job. However, unlike a civilian job, the Navy will continue to pay you if you get hurt and the Navy can't just lay you off in the middle of your contract without cause. It will also give you the job experience and training to get your foot in the door after you get out. After all you've just proven that your trainable and dependable.
3) WARSHIPS. The Navy is a professional fighting force, we defend the interests of the United States of America on the seas. In the words of Commander Ernest E. Evans, Commanding Officer of the USS Johnston (DD-557): "This is going to be a fighting ship. I intend to go in harm's way, and anyone who doesn't want to go along had better get off right now."
4) See the World. Yes, you will see foreign lands while your in the Navy. These locations and the time that you are in port will vary depending on what ship you are on and that ship's missions. So to see these locations you will have to go to sea on a Ship. So far I have been to Scotland, England, Spain, Italy, Greece and Bahrain. My next sea duty will be on the West Coast instead of East so that I have the opportunity to see the other side of the world as well.
5) College Degree. Just like in the civilian sector this will have to be done on your off time. However, unlike the civilian sector the Navy will pay for your classes. This means that you are more then able to do it, but in order to get it done you will have to make decisions and sacrifices. Most of the people who say its impossible really just have their priorities elsewhere. "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." -President Theodore Roosevelt.
6) Fair Treatment. Let me ensure that I am being clear. If you expect to have some kind of nicety or are going to use the phase "that's not fair" generally speaking you are talking about Special treatment. Special treatment is actually unfair by definition. You can expect to be treated the same way as everyone else in your circumstance. For example if you are newly reporting and are not qualified to stand a watch then it is only fair that your the one who will take out the trash as the person who is qualified is too busy standing the watch that you can't. Someday you will be the person standing the watch and the new person who is learning to do so will have to take out the trash. To go along with this idea of fair treatment the Navy is willing and ready to help any of its Sailors with any issues that they need help with. This spans the range from financial assistance to alcohol abuse to chaplain services to legal troubles. If you need help just ask and we will find you the aid that you need.
7) Advancement and Selection to Officer Programs. These are promotions. This means more pay and more benefits. Therefore it is something that you will have to earn. Putting forth time and effort. Studying and bettering yourself. Standing out amongst your peers. If you don't want to have more responsibility or be qualified for the next position then don't expect to be selected for it. For certain programs you need to ask for them, keep driving for what you desire until you get it. Just keep improving along the way. As President Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "PRESS ON" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
I love the Navy. I am thankful that I was given the good guidance to join. I have had my moments of doubt and hate for what I am doing, but at no time did I ever lose sight of the pride that I have in serving my country. For me it has been a life changing experience that has made me the person I am today. As President John F. Kennedy said, "Any man who may be asked in this century, what he did to make his life worthwhile, can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served in the United States Navy.""
This is not a life for everyone, but those who really mean the oath that they swear upon entry do the jobs they are asked to and live up to their obligations. Honor, Courage and Commitment are more then just words. These things are not just handed out to anyone for the asking. "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated." -Thomas Paine
Fair winds and following seas,