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Roleplaying a veteran


May 8, 2015
I'd like to start off by saying this guide has been taken from the LSRP forums, written by a user named "Bora!". Second of all, I'd like to stress the fact that being a veteran is NOT REQUIRED TO JOIN THE FACTION. Nor is it advised you do so, if, you're able to pull it off, go for it. This guide might help nonetheless, whether you're RPing a vet or not.

Bora! said:

[GUIDE] Roleplaying former military
Understanding the basics of roleplaying for former military; portraying a realistic character while doing so.


Wide variety of people here in Los Santos Roleplay opts to roleplay as former serviceman. However most of the people lacks the basic understanding of U.S. Military service, minimum contract lengths or the time required to achieve a set rank. Due to that disregard, some people do roleplay unrealistic characters when it comes to their background. This guide aims to provide some information to players while they are creating their characters, and it aims to make sure personas roleplayed properly and according to real standards.

Writer of this guide is not (former) military, and information presented here are provided through personal research. Active (or reserve) U.S. military members are more than free to fix the mistakes, and contribute via private messages or posts under this thread.

This guide is focused on the U.S. Military.

Picking the service,

It is your character, and you shape your own persona. For the military aspect of your background, you must first decide on which branch of the U.S. Army your character served for. And the second is, deciding on your specialty. You have seven options;

  • U.S. Army,
  • U.S. Marines Corps,
  • U.S. Air Force,
  • U.S. Navy,
  • U.S. Coast Guard.

For the sake of this guide, we will be ignoring the National Guard of United States, which involves National Guard, and the National Guards of the states. It is not due to National Guard of United States is -not- a part of the military structure, but more-so 1) it is a reserve component of the Army and Air Force, and 2) further research is required from my part to add more information about them.

When you decide on which branch you want your character to previously served for, you than need to decide what specialty your character had. For United States Army and United States Marine Corps, it is Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). United States Air Force uses Specialty Code. United States Navy and United States Coast Guard uses a rating system, not so similar to the MOS or/and Specialty Code.

Difference between U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps is that, in U.S. Army MOS, you can actually see what (general) rank that person holds. For infantryman, MOS for Army is 11B. Meaning, for Private to Specialist/Corporal, it would be 11B1, and for Sergeant (E-5) it would be 11B2. Marine Corps does not include the rank into the MOS Code. So for basic infantryman, between the ranks of Private to Sergeant, MOS Code would be 0300.

To see what your characters specialty could be, check the following pages;

And lastly, you should decide with which rank your character finished the boot camp with. Contrary to popular belief, you do not necessarily start at the rank of Private, Airman Basic or Seaman Recruit.

For U.S. Army, you may after your boot camp immediately be a Specialist (E-4) if you have a four-year degree. If your character enlisted to the Army after 2006, he can also be a Specialist with civilian-acquired job skills. For U.S. Marines, you can get Private First Class (E-2) if you have 12 accredited college credits or get two other to sign with you to the service. You also can get Lance Corporal (E-3) if you can get three people to sign for Marine Corps. (needs reference / confirmation) For other services, I suggest you to do further research.


Considering you picked the branch you want to serve, and that your recruiter told you the MOS you are applying for is possible (but do remember, there is a possibility in real life that you might be assigned to a MOS that you never picked) - you go to your boot camp.

Doesn't matter what branch you served, there would only be a handful of stations you will be send for the boot-camp. For Marine Corps, it would either be Parris Island or San Diego. So if your character resides in New York City, he won't be going through his training in San Diego, considering Parris Island is closer.

Boot camps makes or breaks civilians, and turns them into soldiers. This is especially true for the United States Army and United States Marine Corps, considering those two services provide the bulk of infantry. You are expected to watch couple documentaries, available on YouTube. Please avoid advertisement-like documentaries, especially from U.S. Army, considering they are there to recruit people. Get to know the basic jargon, understand the structure of the boot-camp, and if you feel like it, read some boot-camp stories on /r/MilitaryStories. (My favorite / illustration)

Contract terms,

It must be understood that the U.S. Armed Forces are not like your regular civilian job. You can not resign from it, just because it gets tough or you don't like it. You sign a contract with your recruiter before joining the Military, and heading out for your recruit training - and if you decide to stay with the military, you sign an another contract.

Doesn't matter what branch you enlisted for, you sign a contract for EIGHT (8) Years. However that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be actively serving in those eight years. There are different options. Depending on what your character signed, your character has to serve between two to six years in active service. Two and three year jobs are extremely limited, and requires little to no training. So if you plan to roleplay such characters, it is very important for you to find the right MOS.

As an example, training for Signal Corps takes a long time. Thus, you can not sign a two year active service contract with that. If you enlist Navy for Nuclear Program, than you will at least need to serve five active years. So on and so on.

Promotions and time requirements,

An another thing majority of the people here in LS-RP misses when they roleplay military background is, their ranks. So unless you are an exceptional Sergeant (E-5) in U.S. Army, you really can not become a Staff Sergeant (E-6) unless you served for seven years.

Also for each service, at one point or an another - the promotions becomes competitive or/and may include a promotion board.

For more in depth time requirements;