Military gives outlet for students ready to serve

Kristen Choi, Staff Writer

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There are many paths to take after graduating high school, and it’s difficult to know where life will lead.

Most students know about the process of applying to college and how to enter the workforce directly, but not many know how the process of military recruitment works.

Some students are contacted by officers, and others apply directly. Senior Aidan Otero applied to join the Marines, and was soon contacted by a recruiter, Staff Sgt. Justin LeDuc. The two have been in touch since.

Otero knew that he always wanted to join the military.

“I want to be part of [the Marines’] brotherhood and history and battles,” Otero said. 

For students who aren’t as sure, there are recruiters from each military branch. They visit high schools and present to students interested in enlisting. The presentations are a good way for students to carefully consider their options and how the military can benefit them.

Technical Sgt. Lawrence Malm is the only recruiter for the Air Force Reserve in the Bay Area. Malm served as an electrician for the Air Force Reserve for seven years until he decided to recruit and help people plan for success in their future.

“When considering high schoolers for the recruiting process, everyone matters,” Malm said. “However, for eligibility, juniors are able to start the process and seniors are eligible to join.”

Malm said joining the military during the summer before senior year is recommended.

SSgt. LeDuc agreed with the sentiment.

“The applicant will have an entire year to prepare mentally and physically for boot camp and the challenges ahead [if they join the summer before senior year],” LeDuc said.

During the last few months, Malm has recruited three students from Pittsburg High School and about five from San Francisco high schools. In the 2017-2018 school year, 359 high school seniors in the Bay Area joined the Marine Corps.

“I think that the recruitment process is good for those interested in the military,” said Haley Hertz, Cal High’s college and career coordinator. “[The recruiters] often come down to the office and include students in the workouts. They’re pretty honest about the process.”

Talking to military recruiters does not mean a student is joining. Students who are 17 years old or younger must have both parents or legal guardians’ sign consent forms.

The military was not always Malm’s first choice. After graduating high school, Malm said he didn’t know which route to take because his parents did not have the money to send him to college.

Malm said he talked to his father, who has worked with the military for 40 years.

“[He said] the Air Force Reserve would be able to train me for a job to use in the civilian world and would pay for my college,” Malm said. 

Each function in the Marine Corps carries a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), according to the U.S. Marine Corps recruit training brochure.

TSgt Malm is an electrical craftsman who specializes in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Otero encourages students who want to join the military to talk to the recruiters and learn more about prospective options. 

“Their job is to help you,” Otero said. “There isn’t a lot of people who know what the military can do for you.”

Brochures and more information about military recruitment can be found in the college and career center. 

Students can also apply directly through the official military websites, call the respective part of the military, and return a reply card inside the brochures. 

There are military recruitment offices in Dublin, Danville, Livermore, and Hayward.