maestro - Yes the Army will pay for you to continue your education, and you get paid while you do it. There is tuition assistance and other things. As for advanced degress the army has one of the best CRNA programs around. It requires at least 1 year critical care exp, although you can substitute ED exp. From what I have been reading it is almost never full. It is a 33 month program with most if not all in San Antonio. (Great city by the way and close to South Padre Island. - but thats just a perk). Once you are CRNA you owe them 4.5 years. You also get a yearly bonus on top of your pay and allowances. This may be true for RNs also - esp critical care. btw once you are in the military Brenau University has an online RN to BSN program that you can complete in as little as a year, and since you would be military the cost is $245 or $285 per credit hour. This may sound like a lot, but is much cheaper than many other schools.
tthor - Yes some if not all of your time with the VA should count towards federal retirement. And your wife would be covered once you went to San Antonio for your nurses course. I think it is 8 wks, but not sure about that. It is not at all like basic training. It is a "gentleman's course". And again it is in San Antonio. Can you tell I love that place? BAMC the hospital there at Ft Sam is state of the art. It has one of the best burn centers in the world.
Best of luck to you both. It is a decision that should require a lot of thought. Know this too, when you deploy to a war zone you will most often work in a CSH and will see many soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that have the most devistating of injuries. PTSD is a very real thing and there is a high prevalence of it with military medical professionals. We see a lot and try as you might it is impossible to forget the 19 yo engaged marine that has had a traumatic double amputation of both lower extremeties or the 33 yo father/husband whose hand you hold as he takes his last breath and all he can say is please tell my family I love them. I love the time I have spent in the Army and would not trade it for anything in this world, but I have had enough. I have reached my limit. I am finished as soon as I return from Trashcanistan in March. As nurses we are naturally caring and comforting. It does get to be too much at times. We make the most of it though. We laugh and cry together. We see pain and suffereing yes, but we also bring great comfort to those who are hurting. Sorry, not trying to scare you off, just want you to be prepared.
God bless. Please let me know how things go. :usarm: