Heavily debated posting in here, but I haven't seen many people mention the Marines. I've been in for 4 yrs now. I'm an example of how sometimes, a Marine gets left behind, regardless of his performance. I've excelled in every aspect of the Corps, yet I'm still an E-3 simply because of a series of unfortunate events which had nothing to do with me getting punished (I'm sure some have that in their heads right now). I am a vast minority though. Most people pick up E-4 within 2-3 yrs. I am the "senior" E-3 in my command of about 600 marines and sailors.
Here's my opinion in a broader aspect. As far as quality of life and comfort of the troops; that's not HQMC's (headquarters Marine Corps) first priority... by a long shot. I, personally, live in a barracks full of asbestos from floor to ceiling, not to mention the mold all over the place which we have to bleach every once in a while just to hide it. The A/C doesn't work, and we just got hot water back after 3 weeks of it being out. There's no way in hell that it would pass any inspection if the inspectors didn't work for the USMC.
Before I continue, I'm not trying to discourage anyone joining the armed services. BUT, if you plan on joining the Marine Corps, prepare to deal with some serious BS. I highly recommend going officer to alleviate alot of it. If you are coming in enlisted, remember this: You are never right. No matter how much an officer tells you "no consequences" will come from you telling them about something truly F-ed up that is happening in the Barracks or your shop, he has no clue what happens from NCO down, you WILL be punished, and everyone around you will be punished. Not by official routes, but by fvck fvck games they will play at the barracks. Example: Someone recently mentioned the mold problem in the barracks and that we were forced to bleach it while being denied any kind of protective equipment, like gloves or masks etc. Now we will be cleaning the entire barracks every day by the numbers, plus LOTS of yardwork. Why? Because a Sgt got his a$$ chewed for doing something he knows is wrong. Moral of the story: Keep your mouth shut and suck it up.
The one thing I will miss though, is the comradery (sp?) that you develop with your fellow Marines. Some of the best times are just sittin outside the Brks after a long week, drinking everything in sight and BSing with each other. There are alot of people I've met and places I've gone that I never would have had the chance to if I hadn't enlisted.
I won't be re-enlisting for anything they throw at me, but, conversely, I don't see it as a mistake at all. I've found a direction in life, and founded quite a few freindships. If I were to stay in the military at all, I would cross over into the blue,lol. I've known a couple people in the AF, and I wanted to smak the sh!t out of them just because I was jealous of how well they had it compared to us. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the AF gets extra pay for substandard living when on a Marine base. I've even heard of them getting hazard pay for it, lol. Plus the fact that AF chicks are hot
In closing. If there is someone that wants to join the Marines, I won't dissuade you. But I will give you the nitty-gritty of how it can be sometimes. If you decide to join, you will, no doubt, be able to handle pretty much any adverse condition in life by the time you get out.