'Raider' Soldiers show students life in the real Army
May 12, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - With news of Osama Bin Laden's death covering the news, images of the military are all about stealth missions to take out high-value targets, combat operations in Afghanistan and support efforts in Iraq. For high school students, the only option within the military may seem like combat. But for one school in South Carolina, a group of service members were brought together to change that view.
"Around here, there are no jobs and no industry," explains Sgt. Richard Morris, local recruiter for Beaufort, S.C. area. "So we come out here for students who are trying to improve themselves and their situation and get them out-of-town experience, things they would never see if they just stuck around this little area."
Sergeant Morris was a key player in arranging to bring service members to Ridgeland High School for a military career day May 4.
"Today was good because everyone came up to my table since I am here twice a week and they know me, and I said, 'No, I'm not here to chit chat. Go see these people, ask them why they joined the military, what benefits them by joining the military and what they can do with their experience.'"
The jobs featured during the fair weren't traditional combat specialties. Tables forming a u-shape in the gym were covered by equipment used in careers from military police and communications to medical specialists and photographers.
"We do career fairs a lot, but this one was different because we wanted to try to change the mindset of students," said Cynthia Hasty, the career development facilitator for the high school. "Letting them know that just because you go into the military doesn't always mean you are going to war or going into combat. You can actually have meaningful careers in the military, as doctors, lawyers... I wanted to bring that to show the students."
One of the service members was Airman 1st Class Amanda Harrell, who just completed her training as an aerospace control warning systems operator after recently graduating from a high school in the area.
"I've never done something like this before, but I loved it," she said about visiting a high school to talk about the Air Force. "I joined the Air Force to get out of here. I think I gave them more hope thinking, 'Ok, she did it and she's just out of high school, so I can do it, too.'"
Army Capt. Christina Gillette, company commander for B Co., 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and a native of Orlando, Fla., was one of nine Soldiers from Ft. Stewart who came to the school to highlight careers in the Army.
"I felt that the students really enjoyed seeing our equipment and talking to the Soldiers," she said. "I hope the students learned about the different job opportunities in the Army and how what we do translates into the civilian work force."
The high school already has about three recruits from the 2011 senior class, said Morris. But he hopes events like this will help generate more interest, and so does Hasty.
She said, "I hope that [the students] will take it seriously and they will realize there is opportunity in any branch of the armed services that you can go in to really make something out of yourself and be successful."