As their peers frantically fill out college applications and struggle to come up with the perfect essay for the highest-paying scholarships, other high school seniors prepare to enlist in various military positions. For many, it is a goal that they have had for years, and for others it is a relatively recent decision. Senior Reba Detweiler plans to enlist in the National Guard in two weeks, whereas Alana Johnston, also a senior, had already enlisted in the Army by the end of her junior year.
While the timing of their decisions varied, the reasoning behind their choices was similar, as both students have grandparents who had previously served in the military. By enlisting, students are providing themselves with opportunities for successful careers straight out of high school, and both Detweiler and Johnston plan to take advantage of this reality.
“I wanted something better for myself, something I can be proud of,” Detweiler said.
The skills that they learn while serving are transferrable to careers in the civilian population as well, and job security is also something that they have considered.
“Right now I’m just enlisted for five years, and if I don’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped for, then I can come out of the military and be a civilian police officer. That’s why I picked that MOS,” said Johnston, who is currently planning on becoming an MP.
The process of enlisting that they had to undergo began with an ASVAB test, which helped to determine which career they would be best suited for. After taking the test, they had to pass a physical examination involving drug and alcohol tests, height and weight measurements and hearing and vision exams.
Typically after passing the physical exam, applicants will also meet with a counselor to help them choose their career. Finally, they will take the Oath of Enlistment.
Detweiler has not yet taken the Oath of Enlistment, but Johnston has. She has also already started attending PT sessions, and Detweiler will begin them shortly.
“I do PT every other Saturday for four and a half hours. I just run around and do skills/activities that I will have to do on the battlefield,” Johnston said.
The families of both girls have declared their support for their decisions to enlist, and are proud that they were able to make a decision about something so significant at such a young age.
“My family was really supportive and they were nothing but happy for me,” Detweiler said.
However, at the same time, the difficulty of the decision is something that cannot be overlooked by some family members, and worry is obviously something that has developed as the news of their enlistment has settled in.
“My mom is all for it, but my stepdad is terrified for me to leave. My grandpa won’t even talk to me about it yet because he’s so mixed with emotions, because I have so many guy cousins that could have enlisted, but didn’t. I’m his first girl granddaughter to graduate and he just thinks it’s astonishing that I’m enlisting, but he’s very proud,” Johnston said.
Johnston leaves on June 14, and Detweiler also plans on leaving sometime in June.