The Army is changing as you know they are winding down in Afganistan and pulled out of Iraq. This means they are downsizing and there is a transition from constant deployments to a more garrisoned type environment. Economy is not so good and there are plenty of applicants that want to join. This includes nurses.
Your friend says the Army is "Punishing" Soldiers for "minor" infractions etc. I am not sure what these infractions are, can you be more specific? I mean when the Army are downsizing, if a soldier gets a DUI or somehow blatantly shows that he or she is not upholding the Army Standards they are making it easy for the Army to say hey lets start with these guys. I mean its logical, if your the boss and you know your have 10 soldiers for 8 slots, are you seriously not going to get rid of the guy that is basically messing up and try to weed them out?
As for the AMEDD/Nursing, you will see a more competitive environment for promotion. A good example for this is your seeing a lower percentage of 1LTs being selected for promotion to CPT. 80% something percent to about 50% promotion rate.
And I read your post about you wanting to see "Combat", leaving the FOB, and so forth. I mean seriously as a new grad your most likely working on a MED Surg Ward (hospital). Even in a CSH your a in a Role III on a FOB generally, in a FST your in a more forward environment but you will have combat arms guys around you providing security. Your not organic to a Line Unit/Combat Arms unless perhaps your a Brigade Nurse..... but seriously they most likely do not need you on the front lines doing tourniquets and stuff. I mean they don't need a BSN RN doing a Combat Medic Role. A medic can do just as much and more than you (due to their training) on the front line than you can. So if your into that, by all means enlist as a 68W. As a 68W, be prepared to alot more other stuff besides what you see on the movies. In garrison with a CSH your most likely in a warehouse doing other than medical stuff, in a Hospital your used a MED TECH, and as you gain rank your leading soldiers doing NCO stuff whatever is needed of you.
I cannot tell you much about how a 11B lives day to day, and I am pretty sure that your 11B friend cannot tell me how 66H lives either. I can tell you though as a Critical Care Nurse in the Army as an Officer for me I can tell you that there is no way I would ever go the Enlisted route (not taking anything away from what they do). It is way better for my family financially (see the military pay charts), Bonus (20k per year for 4 years commitment), and educational opportunities to get your Doctorate is unbeatable, and you don't have to use your GI Bill to do it.
Have I heard about "lifers" getting out? what is a Lifer? Is that the guy who is 15+ years in and "gets out"? No never heard of him, if i had he is probably getting kicked out vs just getting out. Because truly if he is 15 years in and gets out he is pretty dumb to throw out that retirement. Have I heard of E4 Lifers getting out at like 12 years? Yes, but you probably need to ask your self why someone is an E4 with like 12 years in first.... Is he the Lifer your talking about? What is a Lifer... I heard of guys that are in 20+ years in and Retiring, after had enough yeah. But that is in any job. There is change going on and if you been in 20 years your probably at a point where your like.... I don't really need to be here and if there is changes going on and I don't really like it I can just bounce...