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There are many potential recruits that want to know how they can join the Army. Believe it or not there are some that want to know how to get out. The reasons vary but some new recruits become disillusioned after they join or they decide that the military is just not for them.

This seems like a simple question but the truth of the matter is that it is more complicated to get out of the military than to get in. Joining the military isn't like taking a job in the civilian world. When you join the military you take an oath. This oath obligates you legally and morally to the terms of the contract you signed when you enlisted in the military. This is one time when the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Contact A Recruiter!

Read every document before you sign it. When you sign a legal document your signature is legal confirmation that you have read and understand the document you are signing. So, ask questions and get clarification BEFORE you sign any legal document. To say later that you didn't read the document will not help you.

After you join, it is too late to say you feel that your recruiter misrepresented the contract. Section D block 12a of your enlistment contract you will find the following statement:

"I certify that I have carefully read this document. ANY questions that I had were explained to my satisfaction. I fully understand that only those agreements in section B of this document or recorded on the attached annex(es) will be honored. ANY OTHER promises or guarantees made to me by anyone are written below."

In short, if you are promised something by a recruiter, make sure it is in your contract in writing. If it is not written on the enlistment contract you have no recourse.

Once a recruit has gone onto active duty, the military is heavily vested in that individual. In other words, they have spent a lot of time and money processing, and training the individual and their objective is to collect on their investment.

If you signed a contract and took your oath upon entering the Delayed Enlistment Program (also called the Delayed Entry Program, which is a program where you are enlisted in the inactive reserve to await orders to active duty, sometimes up to a year in advance)you can apply for a discharge request. The current Department of Defense (DoD) policy is to approve discharge request but they DO NOT HAVE TO DO SO. The Delayed Enlistment Program or Delayed Entry Program, is where an individual enlist in active duty. In actuality the individual is enlisting in the inactive reserves and has agreed to report for active duty at a specific date. A recruit can currently remain in the inactive reserves for up to 365 days.

All recruits that join the military are committed to at least an eight year commitment. So you say that you only signed up for two years. In reality it makes no difference if you enlisted for two, four, or six years, you have a commitment to the military for at least 8 years. That doesn't mean you will spend 8 years on active duty. The difference between the time spent on active duty and the 8 year commitment must be spent in the active Guard or Reserves or the inactive Reserves. In the active Guard and Reserves a service member typically spends one weekend per month and two full weeks a year at "drill." In the inactive Reserves the service member doesn't participate in "drill" but is subject to recall in the event of war or national emergency. If upon your discharge you do not reenlist or join the active Guard/Reserve you are by default enlisted in the inactive Reserves.

You may have heard of an "Entry Level Separation." This is not something you can request and it is not a discharge program. It is one of the designations a commander can specify when a service member is discharged.

When an enlisted person is discharged, their service discharge is characterized, based on their conduct and performance while in the military. The possible characterizations are Honorable, General (under honorable conditions), Under Other Than Honorable (UOTHC), and Entry Level (ELS).

Contact A Recruiter!

The military can terminate your service if you fail to measure up. This is certainly not the way to go. Not only is it unpleasant it can have a profound effect on your civilian career. There are two punitive discharges, Bad Conduct and Dishonorable Discharge. In order for a service member to be given these designations they must be have been under court martial.

Voluntary Options for Discharge
You may be getting the picture by now. You can't just change your mind or quit. There are some voluntary options for discharge such as Hardship, Pregnancy, Sole Surviving Son/Daughter, Early Separation to Further Education, Breach of "Guaranteed Job" Clause of Enlistment Contract, Early Release to Serve in the Active Guard or Reserves, or Convenience of the Government.

So before you make a decision, consider all your options. Ask questions. Read all documents before you sign them. Be certain that you can live with the commitment you are making. You will be happier and the military will have a better soldier.

Repayment of Enlistment Bonus
The Army does NOT require the repayment of any bonus when a Soldier is separated from the Army because of injury or illness that was not the result of the Soldier's misconduct.

Wounded Soldiers and/or their Families who have concerns regarding bonuses, pay etc. are urged to call the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline for resolution.
The Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline number is 1-800-984-8523;
Overseas - DSN 312-328-0002;
Stateside Military - DSN 328-0002
Email: wsfsupport@conus.army.mil

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