By Bekah Denny
Society tends to idealize the “military man” standing in front of a waving American flag with the National Anthem playing in the background, but high school students often overlook this post-high school choice and focus solely on the typical path of the college bound.
Students can be seen avoiding the recruiters that make an appearance every month, never exposing themselves to the options the military has to offer. The news tends to show the combat-related fields of the military, overlooking the less battle-oriented branches, and the several careers offered in each branch.
“I believe in service and there are different types of serving. Teachers, students, doctors but people in the military serve as well. They protect the country, but when they serve, they get something back from it that they can apply to civilian life,” Mr. J. Johnson, U.S. History Honors teacher, said.
To be eligible to join the force, a candidate must be an American citizen or a green card holder, in good health, be 17 to 40 years old (depending on the branch), have a high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED), and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
The ASVAB test is a multiple choice test given to the United States Military Entrance Processing Command in order to determine qualification into the U.S. Armed Forces. For each individual branch, the test differs and requires a different passing score ranging from 31 to 40.
If a soldier decides to be an active member rather than part of the reserves or Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and postpone or skip the whole college process, they can still gain valuable skills. Being a firefighter for the air force or a cryptologic technician interpretive (CTI)- a linguist- for the navy could give the person an education they would need in the “real” world without having to attend a trade school after serving.
The army offers over 150 career options, the air force has over 130, the navy has over 60 career fields, the marine corps offers 35, and the coast guard has 20 career choices to choose from.
“Air Force firefighters are specifically trained for aircrafts, to be able to fight those fires. Like getting a job in civilian life, think of the military base as a self contained city. It needs everything a city needs it just has generals and fighter pilots,” John Muldoon, Air Force firefighter, said.
ROTC is another option for students who want to attend college but also want to be apart of the United States military. ROTC is offered at over 1,700 colleges in order to prepare students to become officers upon officially enlisting. The ROTC program provides the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill to its members which pays the full tuition to the college they are attending plus up to $1000 dollars a year for books and supplies. This bill is also offered to veterans from active duty to reserve soldiers.
Rather than overseas service, the military offers “on reserve” positions. On reserve soldiers combine their military role and their civilian career and are available for service should the military need them. The pay rate increases with the soldier’s rank, ranging from E-1 to E-5, and as their time in service increases.
The months spent separated from family and friends can be hard, especially overseas. Some classified operations cause soldiers to have to deal with their anxieties by themselves. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also substantial. According to the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit “think tank” that offers research and analysis to the United States Military, at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or depression as a result.
Getting past testing, boot camp, and the overall homesickness means that there could be a whole new family waiting on the other side.
“I never had a single reservation about joining the military because if you go into something with such a large commitment requirement and you have doubts, they will fester and grow into a lot of negativity. In my world the best thing for me is the military,” Robert Ayala, senior, said.