Army offers a career after high school
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.
Mid-Shore U.S. Army recruits in formation before training activities at the YMCA of the Chesapeake in Easton on June 15.