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Why Do Military Recruiters Lie? – 8 Shocking Truths

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

why do military recruiters lie

The number one piece of advice for aspiring military members is to not lie when meeting with a military recruiter. But why is it the other way around with military recruiters? Why do military recruiters lie? The main reason is that they need to meet their recruitment quotas.

In this article, we will explain further why this happens and give examples of lies that military recruiters might tell you. Keep reading!

The Reason Why Military Recruiters Lie

Military recruiters have quotas.

Even though they are not publicly disclosed, it is presumably that the quotas can include how many recruit candidates they call a day, how many interviews they have, and how many they successfully recruit.

These quotas put a lot of pressure on military recruiters. As such, occasionally, in the process of meeting with recruit candidates, they are driven to lie.

They might also do other things like call you often and come to your house. This is why you can easily find Reddit threads on “My military recruiter is so pushy,” or “My military recruiter keeps calling me.”

Here is the hard truth: you are just a number.

8 Examples of Lies Military Recruiters Tell


Here are some of the most common lies recruiters tell.

Lie 1: You Can Quit Anytime

This is the first lie that you might hear, and it is meant to use ‘flexibility’ to appeal to you. However, this is not entirely true. When you join the military, you will have to sign a contract. This contract commits you to eight years in service, and you are expected to honor this.

If you want to call it quits, you will likely face a legal recourse. On paper, you will probably be recorded as discharge under conditioners other than honorable, which is certainly something you do not want. So, do not fall for this sweet lie.

Lie 2: You Can Sign Up For “X” MOS and Switch Later

Again, this lie uses ‘flexibility’ to persuade you. Although this is sometimes possible, it is very rare. Even if you do get the option to do this, the process will likely be lengthy and exacting. Many military recruiters will tell you this because they want you to commit to a MOS that is lacking personnel. And there is nothing worse than being lied to about what you will be doing for another four years. So, do not let this promise fool you.

Lie 3: You Do Not Have to Deploy

Deploying means moving away and having to fit into a new place. Thus, no one really likes being deployed. But it is not your call to make. Once you sign the contract to enlist, the military reserves the right to deploy you anywhere they deem necessary. Be ready to bid everything that is familiar to you and move whenever you are told to!

Lie 4: You Will Not Get a Signing Bonus for “X”

A recruiter might tell you this lie if they want you to commit to a different job. Usually, this will be done for jobs that have a lot of vacancies and in need of personnel. Sometimes, a recruiter will not out-right say this but send you mixed signs or steer the conversation to another signing bonus. Though technically not a lie, it is important you do not fall for this.

Another caveat with this is that some bonuses are only given if the terms are met within a certain timeframe. If you go halfway through and something happens, like failing to pass the security clearance, you will lose the job and the bonus will be terminated. Not only that, you will have to pay back the amount you have received!

Therefore, with any signing bonuses, it is necessary to read the fine print carefully and do not just rely on what your military recruiter says.

Lie 5: You Cannot Back Out Before Boot Camp

This is a lie that military recruiters across service branches like to tell. It is meant to intimidate you when you have decided that military life is not for you. Military recruiters will tell you this because they need to ensure their quota is met. But it is untrue.

You can consider enrolling into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) which gives you more time before you need to ship out to basic training or opt out then. The general rule is that there are options to back out (albeit with varying difficulty in terms of paperwork) before you are sworn in upon completing basic training.

Lie 6: The Military Will Pay For Your College

This is an overused ploy that, unfortunately, many recruits still fall for. The military will pay for your college, but there are caveats. You will have to $100 a month for the first 12 months to qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill that goes into paying for your college. Then, you will have to commit a certain time in service before you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI bill that also goes into paying for your college. For other programs such as Tuition Assistance, you will have to pay back any amount you receive if your grades are below specific standards.

Lie 7: You Will Get Free Housing, Health Care, and Food

This surely sounds appealing. But it is not as straightforward as the military recruiter makes it. Free housing is housing in the barracks, not a fancy condo near the city. If you want to live off base, you will have to be in a high rank and have the “right” marital and dependents status and location. TRICARE comes with stipulations and availability is often so limited that you will be compelled to visit healthcare facilities off-base. And finally, the free food is not a meal of your choice.

Lie 8: You Can Become a Navy SEAL in the Marine Corps

Marine recruiters lie about this all the time. If you want to become a Navy SEAL, you must be in the Navy. It is not possible to become a SEAL through the Marine Corps or any other branch. SEAL training is only offered to those in the Navy. This is also what Navy recruiters don’t tell you.

What Military Recruiters Won’t Tell You


Aside from lies, there are things that military recruiters will omit when talking with you. Here are some of the most common ones:

You Are Not Cut Out For It

The military is not for everyone. Some people are simply not cut out for it. You might be one of the people, and even if the recruiter recognizes this, they will not tell you. They might not tell you because they need you to meet their quota.

But some recruiters might also think that it is not their responsibility to do so. They are simply one of the many resources you need to consider to be prepared and make an informed decision of whether or not to enlist.

You Should Be in “X” Branch

You will have to arrange appointments with recruiters from specific service branches. So, right off the bat, this is a decision you make on your own. If you are contemplating between several branches, the recruiter might be able to help by providing you information to compare and contrast. However, ultimately, you will have to make the call.

Basic Training is Tough

They will never say this on their own. If you specifically ask them about basic training, they will sugar coat it and say something like “it is actually pretty easy if you follow instructions and work hard.” This is true. But it is also true that basic training is brutal. After all, it is meant to prepare you to serve an entire country. If you intend to enlist, basic training (no matter if it is brutal) is necessary for you to be fully equipped.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do military recruiters get commissions?

Even though military recruiters have quotas like civilian recruiters, they do not get commissions. Simply put, there are no bonuses for them if they get you to enlist.

How do you know if a military recruiter is lying?

There is no fool-proof formula to this. You can try to spot recruiters lying by looking for general behaviors of people who lie, such as:

  • Being vague and not giving a lot of details
  • Avoid using personal pronouns
  • Using unusual tonations
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Pursing their lips
  • Blinking a lot
  • Darting their eyes

However, the best practice is to remember that ANYTHING NOT IN WRITING IS LIKELY A LIE (We got this valuable advice from a Quora user!)

Why do military recruiters lie to MEPS?

Some military recruiters will tell you to do this so they would not have to assist you in the process of getting waivers. But you should not do this. They will not have your back when something backfires; usually, when you are not telling the truth, things will always backfire.


Now, you know the answer to, “Why do military recruiters lie?” Army recruiters lying is not common but not far-fetched either. All the same, Navy recruiters lie and Air Force recruiters lie. This is not something that is limited to a specific service branch. Knowing this, do not blindly take recruiters’ words. Make sure you have all the important “promises” in writing.

If this has been interesting and informative, leave us a comment. Share your thoughts and questions. Thank you!

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