One of the noblest professions remains that of the military. The world over, this service to the country garners much respect and status. It is no wonder so many young people wish to sign up.
But things do not always go as planned. Some end up committing a crime and losing time in jail or prison. This thus begs the question, does the military run background checks?
Chances are they will likely be released long before reaching the maximum age limit. That is 35 years. More so if convicted young and first-time offenders.
But what impact does a crime have on enlisting? Before we address this, let’s consider why one would want to join the military.
Why Join the Military?
There is much appeal to joining the military. To begin with, there are different branches. This means varied ways in which you can serve.
There are also the financial incentives that begin from sign up. Sign-up bonuses can depend on the branch of the military and period.
It is also work that offers sure pay. As with most other government jobs. The pay itself is also highly competitive with even civilian jobs.
And the longer you serve, earn rank, and become specialized, the more you earn. Certain jobs that are considered riskier may also attract special pay.
It also comes with top benefits. This includes a comprehensive medical cover that has both health and dental. This cover also applies to reserve members and their families.
The military is known to support college training. Many enlistees can qualify for up to 100% cover of their college tuition. This is through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
TAP can apply to various kinds of programs. Including graduate, undergraduate, trade, and technical programs. This means great freedom in choosing a career you can carry on with after service.
There are also plenty of housing options for active members as they rise in rank. If moving to or from foreign bases, relocation expenses are also covered.
With all these benefits, what options are there for enlistees?
Branches of The Military
It is also notable that there is a distinction between full-time and part-time service. Full-time service members typically live in military housing.
Part-time service members are made of the National Guard and Reserves. They are required to train one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year. Otherwise, they can live a full civilian lifestyle but must be prepared to heed the call if need be.
Despite the distinction, Reserve and National Guard forces still enjoy many of the same benefits as full-time personnel.
How to Enlist?
The first step should be to talk to a recruiter. This is a chance to discuss the various branches of military and how signing up can better your life. For those with issues like a criminal conviction, it is a good chance to find out your chances.
From here you go to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for evaluation. This will include a check on physical qualifications and aptitude testing. They will also check if you meet the moral standards set by the particular branch of the military.
At the MEPS you will undertake the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This test helps determine what careers are best suited to you.
You will also go through a physical exam. It involves several health screenings like blood and urine tests, taking body measurements. You may also be taken through some short physical training.
Thereafter, you will meet with a service enlistment counselor. They will aid you with career choice based on the outcome of your evaluations. They will also help you understand the rigors of signing up and the enlistment agreement.
If you agree to sign up, you will then take the Oath of Enlistment. From here you either proceed directly to basic training. Or commit to undertaking it sometime in the future.
Does The Military Run Background Checks?
A background check is an investigation into the history of a person. It can take different forms.
The most common being a criminal background check. This is whereby a person’s details are run through various criminal databases. They may also be checked against county and state court records in jurisdictions where they lived.
There are also credit history checks that are often done by landlords and hiring for certain financial jobs. academic background, work history, and work licenses can also be probed.
Like most other jobs, the criminal background check is of the most interest to the military. This is due to the moral standards required of enlistees.
Enlistees are required to be trustworthy, of good character, and conduct. There are often security clearances needed depending on the nature of the job.
During recruitment, enlistees must complete a questionnaire that goes into their background. They are queried on everything crime-related.
It is mandatory to provide full disclosure. Failure to do so may disqualify a candidate.
So yes, the military does run background checks. And they are highly comprehensive. As one is promoted, they may be subject to even more intense scrutiny with security clearance background checks.
These security clearances also tend to have an expiry. This means they come back under review every few years. This period is shorter the higher level the security clearance.
Criminal convictions can disqualify someone from enlisting. Especially if they were crimes of moral turpitude.
Military waivers can however be granted to those with criminal convictions. They essentially lower the bar to allow such candidates to join the military. But these waivers are only ever needed when recruitment numbers from otherwise qualified enlistees fall short.
And, these waivers do not give a free pass to just anyone. Certain crimes cannot be considered for this. they are granted on a case-to-case basis. Consult your recruiter to figure out if you meet the criteria for a waiver to the branch of military you wish to join.
Also, consider running your own background check before visiting the recruiter. This will give you a clear idea of what the military will discover when they receive your report. You can seek corrections where necessary and discuss your chances with your recruiter.