WILL VERDEUR ’18
Recently in Mather Dining Hall, two representatives from the United States Army sat at a table and provided what, for some people who may have considered a career in the Armed Forces, was very useful information.
The military is ubiquitous in modern culture, appearing often in film, literature, television and elsewhere, so it stands to reason that the thought of pursuing a military career has crossed the typical person’s mind. Unfortunately, many people are uninformed about what it is really like to serve in the military; often they think of Rambo and Band of Brothers and little else. According to the representatives in Mather the week before last, however, combat is only part of the story.
As detailed in one of the pamphlets offered at the table, there are a wide variety of jobs in the U.S. Army in several different categories, including combat, administrative support, intelligence and combat support, mechanics, computers and technology, medical, construction and engineering, transportation and aviation, legal and law enforcement, and even arts and media.
Among the more counterintuitive Army positions is the Army Musicians (42R division), who “are primarily responsible for performing and rehearsing as a professional musician within different ensembles of an Army band” (Army Skill Training). There are also Public Affairs Specialists (46Q) who essentially function as journalists for the Army and an Army Chaplain Assistant (56M) who is in charge of worship services.
Aside from the obvious STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and combat careers in the military, someone pursuing a career in law or law enforcement could easily get an edge in that field by working either for the Military Police (31B), as an Army Criminal Investigations Special Agent (31D), or as an Army Paralegal Specialist (27D), the third of which essentially functions as a lawyer involved in military cases. Someone pursuing a career in medicine could similarly gain experience working in any of the sixteen Army medical specializations. Someone with foreign language skills would be incredibly valued by the Army and could work as an Army Interpreter/Translator (09L). Any skills in journalism or the media have their uses in the military. Journalism is particularly important in polemic areas; often public opinion has a large impact on conflicts. The Army also makes use of illustrators and graphic designers, filmmakers, writers, web-designers, and people with similar skills for news broadcasts and publications as well as for any other videos and images that the Army might need. Yet another way in which the Army enables an individual to gain useful experience toward their career is through the Army Reserve, which can assist the financial burdens of getting an education or simply slogging through the not very lucrative early stages of certain careers. The Army Reserve requires one weekend out of every month for training and two full weeks of training per year. These two weeks are in the summer, which allows those enlisted in the Reserve to attend school in the meantime.
One misconception about the military is that soldiers don’t get vacation days. Soldiers are free to take days off just like people with any other job. Another area in which there is lack of awareness is where exactly soldiers are stationed. People seem to think that there is still a large U.S. military presence in the Middle East, but there are actually very few American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Derick Pierce, one of the Army representatives who was in Mather, most U.S. soldiers are stationed on the northern border of South Korea. Upon reading this article, many people may consider a career in the Armed Forces to be a good choice for them, but what’s equally important is not to look only at the trees but at the forest: the military industrial complex, for example, or whether or not the notoriously structured, rigid lifestyle of the military is right for any given person.
The army’s tabling at Mather made strides to disseminate information about careers in the military to college students. By letting people across many academic disciplines engage with the military in various capacities, the military allows for successful career paths.