Pros: Adventure, service, camaraderie, stability, pay, benefits
Cons: Short notice travel, potential danger, missed life opportunities
I served the USAF for 21 years. It's not feasible to review a lengthy military career in terms that those not serving can relate to. However, I was proud to have been a combat aviator and to have participated in so many operations over my 21 year career.
The USAF invests a great deal in the professional growth of both its enlisted and officer corps. Nearly every Captain has a Master's degree and most enlisted members have some college with many completing associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees during their careers.
Initially when enlisting, a member's focus is their primary duty/career field supporting the Air Force mission. However, by their 4 year mark, they have generally been to their first of 3 leadership schools and by their 10 year mark have developed a significant amount of leadership/management skills.
The public is under the impression that enlisted pay is poor, but after 3 years of service, most enlisted are making about $40,000 per year without college which is close to the national HOUSEHOLD median income of $51 as of 2014. The benefits are outstanding too with medical, dental, GI Bill, travel to far off places, etc.
The drawbacks are weeks and months spent away from friends and family, cancelled vacations, weddings, etc. to go fight in conflicts, and a very bureaucratic structure. However, as Louis Zamperini professed, "If you can take it, you can make it."
Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.