Daily life for an enlisted man (EM) is very different in basic training and then technical school from life in the service thereafter. You must understand that. Basic training is a shock to the ordinary civilian, but every average recruit gets through it OK. Technical training schools are less punishing, but also somewhat rigid, and the pressure is great to study and do well. Again, the average trainee gets through fine. The service rarely sends an EM to a school unless his aptitude scores show he can complete it successfully
Once out of basic training and technical training, life is mostly the daily job. Get up in the morning, go to the office, flight line, armored tank maintenance facility or wherever and do the job. If you are infantry, you are often at the ranges shooting, or in field exercises and simulations. If you are aviation, you are either working on aircraft or flying. You may be driving a truck or fixing them. You may be firing artillery or fixing them. You might be a medical or dental tech. You might be doing air traffic control in a tower or radar center. The choices are endless and all the services try to grant your wish, assuming you qualify during testing. Most EM like this role and enjoy the work and the friendships made. And no, the NCOs are not brutal or bullies and the officers are not elite snobs throwing their rank around. Such people are rare in the service.
How about details like KP, guard duty, cleaning the barracks and the like? Well, much of that is done by contractor companies now, not EM. For those EM who study, work and keep good discipline and courtesy, they soon get promoted beyond doing those details in any case. Sweep the barracks hallway or passageway in the morning your first two years or so? Yes. Clean the latrines or heads, including sinks and commodes? Yes, you do that. But once E-4 or E-5 (2 years or so) you don't do that often, if at all.
Wartime? Sea duty? Flying? That is another story, and we don't have room for that here! But that can and does happen, too and that is how you earn your pay (plus combat pay, flight pay, sea pay and so on). You will make decent money, by the way. You can google "enlisted pay scales 2012" and you will be impressed. Remember, a single EM pays $0 for room, board, dining, health care, dental care and so on. A lot of GIs can afford to buy new cars with only a year or two in service!
Why would you not like it? Several good reasons. Do you resent taking orders and being polite to authority? Did you get along with parents, teachers, coaches, bosses? If so, you will not have serious problems adapting to military supervision. They are not tyrants. Are you lazy, slovenly, personally filthy? No? Then you won't have problems with the other guys in the barracks. Can you study technical materials for promotion testing? Take pride in your work? Then you will get promoted, have greater authority and responsibility, make more money and life gets easier.
Go for it. Millions of American men have grown in every way during service life. You can, too.
Answered By: Don H - 4/21/2012