One thing that gets discussed endlessly in boot camp, by the recruits, is why they joined. One thing that becomes clear right away, is that very few, if any, young men join because of great patriotism. Most are joining to escape something. Bad home life, bad drugs, bad marriage, bad job, lack of viable alternatives, pretty much sums it up. There are always a few nice boys, from good homes, with good lives, just looking for an adventure and that's alright too.
It's true that you can get killed in the military or seriously injured but the fact is, most people make it through OK. There is a lot of speculation that the military will mess up your head. It's just not true. The truth is, a fair number of people that enlist, are already pretty messed up or on the way there and the military can't help you with that.
What the military gives you is a break from your old life. It can be a fresh start. It offers new perspectives. You probably will get to travel far and meet interesting new people. You get a lot of time and I mean a lot, to think about what you really want out of life and what you want to do next.
I don't know why Track Palin joined the Army. I can pretty much guarantee you that he is not just a patriotic young man with a great desire to fight for his country. Maybe he's just looking for adventure and change of pace. Maybe he needs a break from the Palin family and Wasilla, Alaska. Whatever.
The Army probably won't hurt him. I doubt if he signed up for more than a couple of years. If he likes it and the Army likes him, he can always stay longer. When he gets out, he can use the GI Bill to go to college. He probably will have a better idea about what he wants to do or at least, what he doesn't want to do, when he gets out. It's not that bad a deal. Others have done it and been grateful for the opportunity.
Good Luck, Track.