Objectives. The present study investigates the role of a disadvantaged background, the lack of social connectedness, and behavioral problems in channeling young men to the opportunities of the all-volunteer military instead of to college or the labor market.

Methods. Data from three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States are employed. The analytic sample consists of 6,938 white, black, and other males.

Results. The greatest likelihood of military service versus college or the labor force occurs when young men of at least modest ability come from disadvantaged circumstances, experience minimal connectedness to others, and report a history of adolescent fighting.

Discussion. Findings highlight the value of access to post high school education and worklife opportunities as a military service incentive for less advantaged young men in the all-volunteer era.