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Son (15) wants to join the Army.

(39 Posts)
Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:43:05


So, I have known for quite a while that he wants to join the army, but thought (or hoped) he'd change his mind. But he hasn't, and wants to join next year when he's 16 years old.
I'll support him in whatever he wants to do, but I am just so worried and concerned that he has chosen to join the army.

We went into the Army Careers Office yesterday and I think it really hit home that he is dead set on this as a career.

I am trying to think of the positive things, such as it being a secure job, he'll get to see the world, make lifelong friends, learn a trade, all of which I CAN see as being positives (especially when the job prospects here aren't that great), but still...I think about the negatives too (injury, death, killing etc).

Has anyone's Son or Daughter joined up at 16? Can anyone just offer some comforting words?

JeanSeberg Sat 10-Jan-15 11:44:52

Does he need parental permission at 16? I presume so. I'm afraid I wouldn't give it if this were my son.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

TrojanWhore Sat 10-Jan-15 11:48:23

Although not a popular site with some MNers, this is one where ARRSE can help you.

you might like to have a read of this thread about AFC Harrogate

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:49:30

Hi Jean. Yes he'll need permission from me and his Dad, although I am not sure if just I can give permission as his Dad doesn't live with us.

I did initially think about not giving permission, but I don't think I should hold him back. I think he'd end up resenting me and I'd rather he felt supported.

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:50:16

Thanks TrojanWhore, I'll have a look at that link.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Sat 10-Jan-15 11:50:20

DH joined up at 16. Not the army, but military. Left after 10 years having travelled the world. He was in a combat role and loved it.

marne2 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:52:57

I thought children had to stay in education until 18 as of next year? Or is it the year after?

I think if that's what he wants to do then he will do it, I would try and encourage him to say in education but at the end of the day the Army is a good career choice.

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:55:28

Middleaged- how did you feel about him joining so young?
If he stays here and tried to find a job, I know it'll be tough going. There aren't all that many jobs, and the commute to any town is at least 45 mins, which means that he'll be working minimum wage and spending a fortune of fuel. The rents are high and wages low, and more and more school leavers are struggling to get jobs.
He doesn't want to stay on at school, but is happy at the thought of ACF Harrogate as it interests him and isn't purely education but also training based.

SukieTuesday Sat 10-Jan-15 11:55:48

Have you thought about bribery? If one of mine wanted to join at 16 I would try to persuade them to wait until they were 18. Driving lessons, car, holiday, cash ...

TrojanWhore Sat 10-Jan-15 11:55:56

They do stay in education if they join the Army.

The military is among biggest providers of adult education and training in the country. And 16 yos go to the Army Foundation College.

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:56:19

marne- yes they do have to. But they can go to ACF Harrogate at 16-18 (basically Army College).

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 11:58:14

Sukie- yes, I have thought about that, hahaha! But he says that he can learn to drive a tank instead! I don't think I can top that!
Plus, its not about convincing him not to go, I will support him if he really wants to go. Its more about trying to come to terms with it myself.

Greenkit Sat 10-Jan-15 11:58:39

He will need parental permission to join, under the age of 18yrs, my daughter wanted to join and i signed her over when she was 17, a few months short of her 18th birthday as a course was starting.

She chose a trade first she wanted to be a medic, but during her basic training she changed and settled on REME, becoming a tank machanic. She served 7yrs and came out Christmas 2013, after meeting her husband who was also in the Army and served 12yrs.

I would suggest he looks at trades which he will be able to do once he leaves the Army, stays away from becoming an infantry soldier. DD has spent the entire time in the UK, her husband did two tours of Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

My sone is now looking at becoming a medic, something he has always wanted to do, but didnt get the grades, he hates his construction course and is looking at the Army to help him with his dream.

I think 16 is a little too young and perhaps he should wait till he is nearly 18.

Greenkit Sat 10-Jan-15 12:07:59

On the otherside, she has got all her licences, tank, HGV etc and didnt pay a penny. It is a great oportunity for them.

ProbablyMe Sat 10-Jan-15 12:27:38

My DS2 wishes to join the army later this year (16 in June) and I'm very happy for him. He's always wanted to join the forces and he's not the most academic lad but I think it'll suit him down to the ground. My ex-FIL was RAF and we had lots of RAF friends and my DP is in the Army. It's largely an apprenticeship scheme but one that offers greater opportunities than you could ever get in the civilian world. Age 16-17 the Army contact parents weekly re progress (DP has spent time instructing basic training) and they don't do front line duties. I would be happy if all of my DS's (I have four) wished to take this path but they're all very different (DS1 wishes to study logistics at Uni from September and DS3 wants to be a Phamaceuticals Chemist!

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 12:34:03

Thanks Greenkit & ProbablyMe.

Luckily, he has plenty of time (well, until September) to decide what area he wants to focus on. At the moment he just wants to be Infantry. But I understand that you can make 3 choices on the application. Can someone confirm this?
My son is OK academically, but doesn't enjoy school. He does well, but would never consider A levels at school.
He is very much a 'hands on' learner and is raring to go.

ProbablyMe, I didn't realise that you get progress reports on them, who do you get those from?

I definitely see the advantages, which is a good thing.

fluffling Sat 10-Jan-15 15:12:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NoSnotAllowed Sat 10-Jan-15 15:29:16

My DH joined the RAF at 16. He's very clever but a hands on learner rather than a book reader. He's an engineer.

There are certain pitfalls that lads can fall into when they join up young - they suddenly have a decent income with no major expenses. A lot of the younger lads can squander their money and the drinking culture is pretty bad. When younger my DH drank far too much and bought too many nice cars smile but luckily he comes from a good family who encouraged him to save up for a deposit on a flat and now at 33 he owns a house and supports me and two children. He's also travelled far and wide, got numerous qualifications and at the ripe old age of 40 he'll be able to leave with a large lump sum and a pension that starts immediately.

The military isn't for everyone but if your son wants to go for it he can definatly get a heck of a lot out of it.

lljkk Sat 10-Jan-15 15:48:08

I heard that if they join before 18 that there are some kind of penalties if they try to leave, they have to commit to staying enlisted for longer. Whereas if they join after 18 they can more easily leave with short notice.

I don't know how that works but it's in back of my mind for DS.

Bookaholic73 Sat 10-Jan-15 16:24:02

Fluffling- I would never not sign the paperwork, just for the reasons that you describe. I am not going to stop him. This is just about me coming to terms with this being his choice.

NoSnotAllowed- I really hope that he doesn't fall into stupid behaviour like heavy drinking and all of that kind of thing. Its very worrying, but he has a sensible head, I just have to hope he uses it.

lljkk- The army.mod website says this: "What if it's not for me?"

Junior Soldiers can leave the Army during their training at AFC Harrogate if that is what they want. However, when a soldier becomes 18, the usual sign up period is for four years, and any time served while they were under the age of 18 does not count towards the four years".

Although I cannot find it at the moment, I think that I read how for the first 6 weeks, Juniors can leave immediately without any problems. Once that 6 weeks is up, they have to give a months notice, but can leave after that.
It's once they have joined as adults (18+) that they cannot leave before their 4 years is up.

Sonothappeningyet Sat 10-Jan-15 16:59:14

I think your idea of the army being all combat and all soldiers being canon fodder is too narrow. Lots do that but the supply chain and support is all important too. Not to mention the growing cyber defence and offence spheres.

I work with a lot of military both serving and ex-serving and yes there are downsides but largely they are committed individuals with a passion for their country and a great sense of duty.

I understand the issue with being 16 and certainly if my DS wanted to join then I would probably discourage it. (He is a very capable student so formal education for longer would be better in his case. But at 18 or post degree I would definitely embrace his decision.)

Maybe it would help to find out more about the army and the opportunities and range of careers. It could put your mind at rest and there may be a way of delaying your son's departure until he is a little older by talking about the range of opportunity. For example if he's a keen gamer then flying drones but he may need computer forensics skills, which means college.

ProbablyMe Sat 10-Jan-15 17:27:43

Bookaholic - each group has a team of 6 that is responsible for their care and training and they are the ones that feedback to you.

GnomeDePlume Sat 10-Jan-15 20:12:43

My DS has applied for entry to AFC Harrogate in September. He is off on his Insight course on Monday.

I think that one of the big advantages of joining as a junior is that the basic training is a lot longer than for adults. From what I have read the training takes account of the entrants being 16-18 so they are given longer to build up their strength. I think that the army also has a good reputation for education.

My DS is hoping to join REME. He will get a huge amount of training. He will get to use equipment and techniques throughout his training. He will also know that there is a job for him. Fe apprenticeships can offer that sort of certainty.

As a parent I think that you have to make your mind up and either be 100% in favour or 100% against your DC joining up. Your DC need to know where you stand on this.

I know that my DS has had the odd wobble then he has re-focussed on joining the Army. Just the other day he was worrying that he wasnt ready for the Insight course. IMO all of this is part and parcel of being 16 and recognising that going into the army at this age is a big step.

I am not pushing my DS to join the army but I recognise that sometimes he wont be able to see the wood for the trees and that my job will be to keep reminding him what he wants to do in the Army. The first six weeks will be the hardest simply because it is a big change from home and school. What I have told him is that he will be hitting a big change at 16 no matter what he wants to do if he isnt going to do A levels.

ilovemydoggy Sat 10-Jan-15 20:27:30

I look after many young lads in the army as part of their phase 2 training. They are treated very well and get the chance to do things no other 16/17 year old get to do. I had a young boy bring me to tears in November when he ask me to come and watch him in the 11/11 parade as his mum and dad couldn't come down and of course I went. So don't worry that he wouldn't be looked after.

GnomeDePlume Sat 10-Jan-15 21:57:10

I thought that the following from the ARRSE website was good:

No not many people fail, the ones who leave do so out of choice, you will have parts of the course you will need to pass in order to carry on, if your having trouble in a particular area we will spend time with you in the evenings in order to help you through, we are not just there to shout and scream at you, we are professional in what we do, we will coach and mentor you to the way we want you, however all we expect is if we'r putting the extra hours in to help you, we expect you to work hard for us, it will be tough i wont lie, but you will have huge amounts of support all the way. we are not monsters in uniform or machines, we are human beings, we have family, friends, and life's just like you, it may not seem that way but we do, so you can approach us if you just want to chat or your having issues, we was in training once as well. last bit of advice DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING WE SAY OR DO PERSONALLY.

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