Thinking of Joining the JAG Unit. Any Advice from Military Guys?

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    Dec 21, 2010 2:04 AM GMT
    Hey guys, now that DADT is on its way out I've been giving a lot of thought to applying for a commission as a Judge Advocate in the Army, Navy, or Air Force. I've been doing some research, and it seems the applications are due in Feb/March for all the programs. As part of the application process I'd have to be interviewed by a current Judge Advocate before the deadline to be considered.

    Since I'm already a lawyer, and not a student, I know the issue of "why now" will come up in my interviews. My answer of course is "DADT will be gone within 6 months to a year (most likely), and now I feel I can serve without having to hide who I am." However, until repeal is officially effective I won't be able to tell the truth about why I want to join now. Given that I live in the South I have to plan my interview answers like I'll be talking to General Amos himself, so I'd be too fearful to even drop a hint that my change of heart is about DADT.

    So here's my question: what should I tell the interviewer when asked why I waited until after law school to apply for the JAG unit? I'd be especially interested in hearing advice/stories from the experiences of those who are current or former military personnel. If you'd rather not post your story on the forum, feel free to shoot me a private message. Thanks in advance guys!
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    Dec 21, 2010 2:35 AM GMT
    I have a military background, not JAG, though, but I have a fairly good sense of interviewing for a career that I think applies to the military. DADT is law but has not been implemented yet by the services, so I would consider it not yet in force. I think the focus of the questions and your answers should be much more global than the passage of a specific law or its implementation. Couple of reasons: First, you don't know the attitude of the interviewer, so you don't want to kill your chance. Second, you should be able to articulate why you seek a career in military law. Passage of DADT or its implementation would come across as a very superficial reason as a career decision, even though it is a significant milestone. When you articulate your reasons, the why now answer should fall out.
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    Dec 21, 2010 3:06 AM GMT
    Socalfitness, thanks for your input. I should clarify that the end of DADT is not my sole reason for wanting to join the JAG unit. In law school I interviewed with JAG reps from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. If it weren't for DADT I would probably already be serving. However, I decided not to pursue a career with any of them at the time (I was just starting the process of coming out) because I couldn't imagine going back in the closet and living in fear that at any moment I would be outed, tried and fired.

    I have my good reasons why I want to join the JAG unit, but I want to have an answer ready for the "why NOW" question that I'm certain will be asked. I can see it now: "If you're so passionate about the JAG why did you wait until after school to decide to join?" Obviously answers like "DADT is gone" or "I felt the time was right" are not going to cut it.
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    Dec 21, 2010 4:18 AM GMT

    I'm a 3rd year law student. I'm also now considering applying to the JAG Corps. I'm wondering whether I should state in my personal statement that I'm gay? I feel like I should really just emphasize my previous military experience and my professional experiences. I'm also concerned about the interview, and whether, in response to questions pertaining to wife and kids and family, I should state that I'm gay? I feel like, considering that conservative parts of the legal profession (particularly the military) seem to be slow in catching up with new mindsets, I should keep the gay thing out of the application process, unless of course, an interviewer specifically ask about it. I feel that maybe outside of my own reality, the gay thing really isn't that important to interviewers, rather, they're more concerned with how stellar I am.

    Anyway, I don't feel that by omitting my sexuality from any part of the application process that I'm not portraying myself in a genuine light; now that DADT is repealed, my sexuality really has no relevance in the application process, and therefore its omission is not materially misleading. Am I right here? I also think that maybe if I expose my sexuality it may backfire. Maybe the interview will think that I'm applying to make a political statement, as opposed to applying because I'm genuinely interested in serving my country as a JAG officer. Your thoughts are much appreciated!
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    Dec 21, 2010 6:19 AM GMT
    Shockjock, you should absolutely NOT mention in your personal letter that you're gay. Although DADT has been voted to be repealed, it is still the law of the land. As such any mention by you in your personal statement or to the interviewer that you are gay will completely bar you from consideration to the JAG program or any military position for that matter (at least until repeal is implemented).

    I would focus on your previous military and professional experiences. If only I were a year behind with you- I wouldn't have to make up a reason why I'm applying as an attorney instead of during law school. Best wishes and good luck! Keep us all updated.
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    Dec 21, 2010 6:34 AM GMT
    Military always wants lawyers. It's basically a buyers market, so to speak. Choose which ever branch interests you, in terms of opportunity and training. You'll get priority over the other guys applying for ground/infantry slots for OCS/OTS.
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    Dec 21, 2010 7:57 PM GMT
    I wish I could give you some constructive advice, other than wait a year, but I can't stop thinking about how you're going to look in that dress uniformicon_evil.gif
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    Dec 21, 2010 8:07 PM GMT
    Why JAG? Maybe try going to NCIS.
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    Dec 21, 2010 8:12 PM GMT
    I have always learned in the application/interview process to never offer more than you are asked. I think that being gay should not be a focal point for you, even tho it is in the forefront of your mind. I don't really think the interviewer is coming in thinking "i'll bet this fucker is gay"...He should and will be nterested in your qualifications, adaptability and acceptable as an OC.

    If, he does ask your dreaded question of why now, what's wrong with telling him you wanted to get your feet wet in civilian practice before being sure on life as a lawyer and specifically as a miliary advocate...Wouldn't that ring the truth and seem more than a plausible answer.

    don't go into the interview looking like you committed murder, you might just set off the hounds....Just be you, a civilain lawyer applying to JAG.

    keithicon_cool.gif
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    Dec 21, 2010 8:25 PM GMT
    I am enlisting in the navy formally around the 15th when a marine friend gets home and can go down with me. I can't say DADT would have effected my decision either way because I had already made up my mind a while ago. I was kind of waiting it out though and I do feel a huge relief and all that - though I dont really plan on letting anyone know anything about me or my private life because I am not trying to become the poster child for gays in the military. being gay isnt a huge part of my life anyways and if that became all that i was...that would be fucking ridiculous.
    For me..I did alot of research. I went through life ops testing - took a good look at several careers and tried to talk to people who worked in whatever field I was looking at. Right now I am looking at navy diving because its something I already love and have experience in and there are openings. In the long run however, I have always been interested in naval law because you dont need a degree to get into the program and i can then go to law school like i have found out alot of people have done. where you already have a degree i guess you would be going in as an officer.
    the only advice i can give you about talking to recruiters or even people who are serving...dont go in acting like you know whats best for you and you are going to tell them what is going to happen. the questions i was prepared to answer were not the questions i got. everyone was cool but noone was like 'oh wow you want to enlist! thats so awesome! tell me all about your life and why you want to serve your country!' shit was very straight forward..i guess very military in the sense that i got a 123 of how things were going to work and when i said i wasnt ready that was it..come back when yer ready. and it also seems to me..just from my friends who serve and people ive talked to..noone walks into the position they want. maybe that seems obvious but i think its important to remember that when you sign on the line you sign yer life away. if things dont end up the way you wanted them to..you cant do fuckall about it. im prepared to scrub bird shit if i have to because this is something ive wanted for so long and its like the big thing in my life ive wanted and needed...if i had a degree i dont know if id feel the same way.
    good luck man..maybe ill see you one day!
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    Dec 22, 2010 12:48 AM GMT
    BlueBlur saidSocalfitness, thanks for your input. I should clarify that the end of DADT is not my sole reason for wanting to join the JAG unit. In law school I interviewed with JAG reps from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. If it weren't for DADT I would probably already be serving. However, I decided not to pursue a career with any of them at the time (I was just starting the process of coming out) because I couldn't imagine going back in the closet and living in fear that at any moment I would be outed, tried and fired.

    I have my good reasons why I want to join the JAG unit, but I want to have an answer ready for the "why NOW" question that I'm certain will be asked. I can see it now: "If you're so passionate about the JAG why did you wait until after school to decide to join?" Obviously answers like "DADT is gone" or "I felt the time was right" are not going to cut it.

    You're welcome. I would think a simple answer for the Why Now is, as much as you have been interested in military law, you also wanted to weigh other options (you could enumerate them if pressed), you wanted to be sure of your choice, and you have now come to a decision. I think the only follow-up questions would be to ask you about the other options and how you came to the decision. I think in that context, the emphasis would be on your decision process and not the timing.
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    Dec 22, 2010 1:03 AM GMT
    Contact coolarmydude here. He is a great guy and I am proud to call him my friend.
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    Dec 23, 2010 8:24 PM GMT
    Thank you gentlemen for your advice. I will definitely put it to good use.