Army of­fers a ca­reer af­ter high school

Times-Record - - Front Page - By NATE NKUMBU nnkumbu@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — For many peo­ple, grad­u­at­ing high school is an ac­com­plish­ment that deser ves to be rec­og­nized.

Grad­u­ates of­ten head to­ward col­lege and univer­sity, trade schools or im­me­di­ately en­ter the work­force. But for some stu­dents, the U.S Army pro­vides them an op­por­tu­nity to serve their coun­try, learn a ca­reer and earn money for col­lege.

Grad­u­ates from the MidShore got the chance to be­gin their path in the Army with a train­ing course Fri­day, June 15, at the YMCA of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Eas­ton. They par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral in­di­vid­ual and team-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing wa­ter safety and re­lay races.

Sergeant First Class Charles S. Gon­za­lez of the United States Army and an Army re­cruiter said that as far as the Army is con­cerned, there are a lot of op­tions for high school grad­u­ates who get re­cruited and en­list.

“It’s kinda like a choose your own ad­ven­ture. You can go re­serves, you can go ac­tive duty and there’s over 150 jobs to choose from and it’s all de­pend­ing on what they want to do, how they score on the ASVAB (Army Ser­vice Vo­ca­tional Ap­ti­tude Bat­tery) test and the in­cen­tives they want with it. Every­body is in it for some­thing dif­fer­ent,” he said.

Gon­za­lez said that prospec­tive re­cruits of­ten join the Army for many rea­sons which in­cludes learn­ing a trade, com­bat pur­poses, or a life­long dream of serv­ing in the mil­i­tary. His job is to find out what re­cruits want to do in the Army and come up with a plan for them and it starts with the ASVAB, or the Armed Ser­vices Vo­ca­tional Ap­ti­tude Bat­tery.

The ASVAB is a test that is handed out by all of the U.S Armed Forces that de­ter­mines en­list­ment. Where you place on the ASVAB can de­ter­mine the type of job and ben­e­fits a re­cruit can get. A high score would al­low a re­cruit the op­tion of join­ing the spe­cial forces and opens the door to more jobs and in­cen­tives.

“The Marines look at it, the Navy looks at it, the Army, every­body looks at the same test you take and they in­ter­pret your re­sults dif­fer­ently to see what you’re qual­i­fied for but it gives you 10 dif­fer­ent scores across the board to see what job you’re qual­i­fied for,” Sgt. Gon­za­lez said.

Once a per­son is en­listed, they go through a process that dif­fers de­pend­ing on when they en­list. Ac­cord­ing to Gon­za­lez, if they en­list dur­ing their ju­nior year, they are el­i­gi­ble to en­ter the Army Reserve, but in or­der to en­list into ac­tive duty, they have to wait un­til they are a se­nior where they meet with an Army ad­vi­sor once a week and go over ba­sics.

“We do all that, pre qual­i­fi­ca­tion, get­ting them ready, do back­ground checks and get their job locked in be­fore they go. One thing that the Army does well is that they can guar­an­tee your job and your con­tract be­fore you even go up,” he said.

Gon­za­lez said many peo­ple get cold feet, get ar­rested or get in­jured be­fore they ship off to ba­sic train­ing. In the case of med­i­cal is­sues, he said they wait un­til that per­son is healed be­fore go­ing through the en­list­ment process again and send­ing them out.

“Once they are healed, we sub­mit their med­i­cal records and go through the process and en­list again,” he said.

The gen­eral feel­ing that peo­ple have for the Army ac­cord­ing to the sergeant is one of cu­rios­ity and wil­i­ness to learn about some of the ben­e­fits like health care and va­ca­tion days that the ser­vice has to of­fer.

“We start telling them about the jobs and the in­cen­tives and the ben­e­fits, they have no idea that those things were out there. The Army is re­ally good about get­ting money for col­lege, get­ting peo­ple ed­u­cated and peo­ple don’t re­al­ize that it’s a good in­cen­tive,” he said.

When adding in other things like se­cu­rity clear­ances and train­ing, all of this in­for­ma­tion can seem like a lot to a new re­cruit.

“Once you start ex­plain­ing things to them, it’s eye open­ing. It’s like drink­ing wa­ter from a fire hose be­cause it’s com­ing at you all at once,” Gon­za­lez said.

For fam­i­lies with have a his­tory in the mil­i­tary, the re­cent ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy to the Army makes con­ver­sa­tions that were once fa­mil­iar all of a sud­den new for them as well.

“The Army and the mil­i­tary has changed so much in the past 10 to 20 years that usu­ally the stuff they know is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to way things are now. They get ed­u­cated on what the new stuff is,” Gon­za­lez said.

He said the vast ma­jor­ity of re­cruits of­ten work be­hind the scene in places like en­gi­neer­ing and sup­port as op­posed to on the battlefield.

“They’re there fix­ing stuff so that’s one of the things that we have to ex­plain to them but once the par­ents are there and they hear all about the health care, money for col­lege and the gen­eral sup­port that is there for them on bases, the par­ents are im­me­di­ately like, do that,” he said.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Mid-Shore U.S. Army re­cruits in for­ma­tion be­fore train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties at the YMCA of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Eas­ton on June 15.

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