The only advice I have is the same advice I got from a very up front and honest recruiter that hailed Mississippi; the military is what you make of it. If you go in with a poor additude or bad preconceived notions, you are severly handicapping yourself. It can be the best thing you ever did, or the worst- it's up to you.
I would look very carefully into the child custody issues. It is my understanding at this moment that the Marine Corps will not accept new recruits with dependent children who are unmarried. I have a congregant who tried to enlist earlier this year in a similar situation, and they demanded that he legally sever all custody rights to his son. So I don't know if that is still the case, or if it was a particular issue for the young man I know, but I would certainly explore that issue carefully before going much further and decide if it is a deal breaker.
For the religion issue, I was Navy and not Marine Corps, though I served with Marines on a LOT of occasions. I am also a committed Christian. And trust me when I say, many Marines are not overly religious. :)
Having spent twelve years in the Marines, I would definitively encourage him to join. But, make sure he knows he is doing it for the right reasons. It will be years of hard, dirty, and sometimes dangerous work. He probably fully understands that, but many often join who did not understand that prior.
Make sure he is not doing it to please someone else (his parents, some woman, etc.); he has to want to do it for himself.
If those two conditions are met, go for it...
Also know that the military is NOT a jobs program. All of the services are looking to cut personnel and save money (I'm not saying that makes any sense, but I digress). My point is, regardless of service, the military is going to evaluate all recruits. They don't want to recruit problems; there are enough problems just trying to do "more with less" (hate that phrase), and given the job market, they can be selective on who they want. Financial, dependent, and dependent financial problems may be a factor for consideration for induction.
Having had E-1s to E-4s (and the occasional Lt) stand in front of me to explain why I'm getting phone calls from their landlords or collection agencies, takes up more of my time than taking care of the families whose husband or wife is deployed, and taking care of my home station mission. These people I refer to as the 2% of people that take up 95% of my time.
Recommend doing some online reading, including service-specific instruction (regulations) and having YOUR SON talk to the recruiter.
Thank you, everyone else, too. Don't worry, I have no desire to go talk to a recruiter. *shudder*
My son is on his own with his decision. Like I said, I'm helping him gather info. Nuff said on that!
I appreciate everyone's honesty, and warnings. I will pass them on for him to deal with. Thank you! <bows>
My cousin is a Marine. He's still the same lovable goofball he was before he enlisted.
OP - Does your son still see his child? I understand he has severed relations with the child's mother, but if at all possible, that child needs daddy in his/her life.
Joining the military is not going to be conducive to your son being involved with his child.
IMHO - the needs of the child come first. Perhaps your son and the child's mom can come to realize that, and work out whatever differences they have.
I did 20 years in the Navy and now have 20 years civil service with the Air Force.
Regardless of branch I have never seen religion being pushed on anyone. In boot camp we were all encouraged to attend services on the sabbath but never forced. After boot camp religious services were the service member's choice.
The marines are a great outfit.
I liked the Navy because I got to travel all over the world. And I thought sea duty was fantastic, especially carrier duty.
The training is great; the comaderie is great; educational opportunities are great. As has been said it's what you make it. And I must say my recruiter, a Boatswain Mate Chief (1969) was 100% honest with me.
Regardless of service, each is an honorable career.
My oldest left for Parris Island three days after HS graduation. I was fine with his decision, but wanted to make sure he was doing for the right reasons. I wanted him to do school, then go in as an officer. I had him talk to everyone I had ever know that had been USMC. They told him they wouldn't take anything for their experience, but that he should look at the Air Force. He didn't, and ten years later, he's been through OCS, has a BA from a very good school, and is doing great. Up until very recently, he thought he would stay in for his 30, but is looking at what our DC idiots are doing to retirement, benefits, etc....
Bottom line: he has gotten a lot out of the Corp. not sure he would be the man he is now had he just gone to school. He's an office with skills and a great deal of knowledge about himself...I'm thrilled he chose this route.
There is lots of good advice that has been passed along.
My father is a 30 year retired Master Gunnery Sergeant, I joined the Corps right out of high school and spent my time deployed overseas, my son joined the Corps and went on to work on electronic warfare systems on Marine fighters.
The Corps will be a life changing experience for him in a good way but as stated it is what he makes of it. Religion is a personal preference and as suggested go to chapel in basic it gives you a chance to relax. His MOS/Job in the Corps is as stated based on need and availability. There are jobs as armorers that he would enjoy and they teach skills that are still in high demand in the civilian market.
Yes it is true that if he wants to sleep in a warm soft bed, live in his own room, have better chow, and have a generally easier time in service he should join the Air Force they have some highly technical jobs offered nowhere else but keep in mind if he is determined to be a Marine there simply is no substitute and he will spend the rest of his career wondering if he made the right decision.
Just an opinion
Each service has it's pros and cons. One thing I will add, especially if he decides to actually "go for 20", is encourage him to really take advantage of the educational opportunities the military has while he is in the service.
To me there was nothing sadder that seeing one of my contemporaries retire after 20 or 30 years with the same high school/GED diploma they entered the service with, and have to then take a menial job to get by on. But, I understand that this is now actually harder to do than when I was on active duty.