When I first decided to join the Army, I did some research. Obviously the Recruiters are happy to shower you with pamphlets and stuff; they’d invite you to watch videos of different jobs; I think today there are interactive video games that educate as they entertain. I had a pretty good idea of what lay ahead, although of course the Recruiters do give you the “best possible” outlook on things.
On the other hand, I was surprised at how amazingly little others knew about the process. I even had to assure people at my school that I wasn’t being drafted (the “draft” had ended years before I came in). Most people simply have the Hollywood version of military service, especially the Basic Training portion of “Full Metal Jacket”. Even when I came back from Basic Training and told people the real, first-hand experience, they couldn’t believe it.
But it makes sense– the drama and action is exciting and makes for good movies; the reality is fairly dull. Reality can’t hold a candle to Hollywood.