Careers: Military--Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard/Swimming inability and limited distance.

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QUESTION: I'm interested in joining the Army soon but I have never learned how to swim. I was curious as to whether or not I'm required to learn before applying to enlist or if that's something they teach you. If it is, though, would you recommend that I learn before enlisting?

Also, I wear glasses for distance. Does the Army have an issue with those who have astigmatism? Or do they just prefer people wearing contact lenses rather than glasses or something? Thanks.

ANSWER: Hi Kevin,

No, you wouldn`t be required to learn before enlisting. The Army doesn`t do as much swimming as say, the Marines or Navy. They have somewhat recently implemented combat water survival, so you would have to do some swimming in BCT, not much. They would, however, teach you, not to worry about that. Whether you want to learn ahead of time or not is up to you, but personally, I would, because it`s one less thing to do and have to worry about while there. But there`s no problem learning there, either.

You can join with an astigmatism, BUT it must be within these requirements:

Refractive error (hyperopia (367.0), myopia (367.1), astigmatism (367.2) ), in any spherical equivalent of worse than -8.00 or + 8.00 diopters; if ordinary spectacles cause discomfort by reason of ghost images or prismatic displacement; or if corrected by orthokeratology or keratorefractive surgery. However, for entrance into a military academy or ROTC programs, the following conditions are disqualifying:

(1) Astigmatism, all types over 3 diopters.

(2) Hyperopia over 8.00 diopters spherical equivalent.

(3) Myopia over 6.75 diopters spherical equivalent.

(4) Refractive error corrected by orthokeratology or keratorefractive surgery.

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/l/bleyes2.htm

If it meets those requirements, you can join. You`d have to wear glasses during training, BCG`s (Birth Control Glasses, named that because no one gets lucky while wearing them) but once you finish training, you can wear glasses or contacts.

I hope that helps.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. One final question that I've been confused about:

I know you need a college degree and have to join an Army ROTC to commission an officer in the Army, but is it possible to still enlist as a soldier even after the college degree and after completing Army ROTC? If one desired to be a soldier rather than an officer, for example. Or would this be a bad idea and I should simply commission?
I'm not looking to spend a career for the rest of my life in the Army, also. I heard officers are typically commissioned longer than enlisted soldiers.

I hope that made sense. Thanks again in advance!

Answer
Hi Kevin,

You don`t have to do ROTC to become an officer. That`s simply just one of the ways to become an officer. There`s also the Military Academy (West Point) and OCS (Officer Candidate School). You can definitely go to college, get a degree, and enlist. In fact, because of enlisting with a degree, you`d be able to get an advanced rank (E-4).

Here`s some information regarding ROTC, OCS, and USMA:

ROTC: http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/scholarships.html
OCS: http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/become-an-officer/officer-candidate-schoo
USMA: http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/become-an-officer/us-military-academy.htm

But if the only reason that you`d rather not become an officer is because you think you`d have to spend more time in, that`s not true. If you commission via ROTC or OCS, it`s still 4 years Active, 4 years IRR. If you commission through USMA, it`s 5 years Active, 4 years IRR. Same amount of time, one year longer of Active Duty. That said, certain jobs, like aviation, requires a longer amount of duty, like 8 years.

If you want to go ahead and get a degree, that`s fine, and no one`s expecting you to become an officer if you don`t want to, but if you want to become an officer, you have that opportunity.

I know that`s a ton of information, so feel free to keep on asking questions.  

Careers: Military--Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard

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