Military provides an alternative path

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By Amelia Arvesen

Boot camp and combat training are not usually the first post-graduation plans that seniors make. Enrolling in the military or attending a military academy is an overlooked option for most high school seniors, but for some students, it was their first choice.

Nine seniors have decided to join the military after graduation, some as early as the end of June. Each of them had to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, or ASVAB, in order to participate in the military.

Although his choice to attend the United States Naval Academy is not a common route for high school graduates, senior Brian He said he doesn’t worry about missing out on a common college experience.

“I think I’ll still get an enjoyable college experience,” he said, “although it will be more structured.”

Brian and senior Kelly Fielder both plan to report to the naval academy in Annapolis, Maryland at the end of June. Brian and Kelly will spend their summer at Plebe Academy (Navy Boot Camp) and in the fall will attend the military college. Kelly said he knows he’ll get a great education that he hopes will set him up for life.

Kelly and Brian’s mentor, Captain Scott Perkins, said Plebe Academy is seven weeks long, and classes meet every day but Sunday at 5:30 in the morning. Days start off with physical education followed by an entire day of classes, including rifle range and sailing instruction.

Captain Perkins is also the Blue and Gold Officer of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

“They [plebes] are expected to be able to run three miles in under 20 minutes, do 70 push ups in under two minutes, and do 80 sit ups in under two minutes,” Captain Perkins said.

Plebes must be in excellent physical condition, he said.

Although Henry He, Brian’s father, fully supports him, he said that he didn’t expect the decision to attend the Naval Avademy to rise to the top of Brian’s choices.

“It will create a strong base for future endeavors,” Brian said.

Senior Giavanna Rusca is hoping to become a Marine, but she is still waiting on her paperwork. She said that she has always wanted to join and thinks it’s something everyone should experience.

“It will expand my horizons and opportunities as a woman,” she said. According to The New York Times, 6.2 percent of Marines are women and go through the same training as men.

Giavanna chose the Marines because she said it’s the most exclusive and difficult branch to enter. To prepare, Giavanna has been running two miles every night. In September she hopes to start training to be a Marine, and eventually become an aviation mechanic.

Senior Tyler Bugaj is also looking forward to being a Marine. Tyler will be sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego on July 25. He chose the Marines because he said he liked their sense of camaraderie and their push to be the best you can be.

Giavanna said that a benefit of the Marines is the GI Bill because it will help her pay for college. The GI Bill, passed in 1944, provides a college or vocational education for returning soldiers and one year of unemployment compensation. Another benefit is saving and earning money for being in the military.

Captain Perkins said that the Navy scholarship when put into monetary terms is worth $350,000.

“How much money you get depends on your rank,” said senior Derek Macinsky, although he also said Marines get paid for boot camp.

Derek has planned to become a Marine also. He said that becoming a Marine is the best option for him out of high school.

“I figured if I was going to be dedicated at something, it would be the best,” he explained. Derek said that being in the military will help him skip the community college process.

Senior Amanda Sampson is also joining the military instead of going to a four-year college. She doesn’t think she is ready for college, although she hopes she can get started quickly on her career through the Air Force.

“I think I’ll mature a lot faster because I’ll be living on my own,” she said.

The only thing she is worried about is being under discipline all the time.

Derek has been preparing for joining the military by running on his own and meeting with future fellow marines to work out.

“Once a month we work out and get yelled at,” he said.

Boot camp starts for Derek on July 11. After that, he will also be sent to San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

“It’ll be hell for the first 13 weeks,” Derek said.

He said that when he first made his decision, his friends didn’t understand but his mother supported him.

“Now that it’s getting closer, she’s panicking,” he said.

Kelly has gained support for his decision from his family, especially because his brother is already in the Navy. Kelly said that his brother influenced him in his decision.

“I told my mom, and of course she cried,” Giavanna said.

The most important thing to Brian’s family is for him to stay healthy. Brian is looking forward to the opportunities ahead to explore his interests.

“I value it because not only will I get an excellent education but I will learn honor, loyalty and duty, qualities I wouldn’t learn from a civilian college,” he said.

Henry He said he is excited for Brian and thinks the future looks bright for him.

“I think everyone should be able to [participate in the military] as long as they put their mind and soul behind it,” Henry said.

Captain Perkins’ role in Brian and Kelly’s decision was to interview and inform them so they could make a decision that would be best for them.

“I expect lots of serious people there for the right reasons, and I just want to join them,” said Kelly.

Derek is looking forward to becoming an aviation mechanic after one year of tech school. From there, he will serve four years of active duty, two years of inactive duty, and then he can decide to rejoin or not.

“Once you’re a Marine, you’re always a Marine,” Derek said.

Good luck to Derek Macinsky, Tyler Bugaj, Pascal Traylor, and Giavanna Rusca in the Marines, Kelly Fielder and Brian He at the Naval Academy, and Jeff Posey, Amanda Sampson, and Brian Cochran in the Air Force.