By Joe LacdanMay 15, 2018
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. -- With an eye toward earning a degree in psychology, new Army reservist Brianna Snyder hopes to build on a career working in Army Intelligence.
Norfolk State University student Zyree Bethea, 21, of Washington, D.C., was recruited to the National Guard as a small arms and artillery repair technician. He serves as a special advisor for the JROTC program at his alma mater, Eastern Sr. High School.
The two Army recruits were among 33 sworn into the service during a special enlistment ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall earlier this month, just before a Twilight Tattoo hosted by Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville.
The Army has been increasingly recruiting career-minded Soldiers like Snyder and Bethea who have a focus on education.
"At its core, the U.S. Army is a training and education institution," said Lt. Col. Amanda Iden, Baltimore Recruiting Battalion commander. "We cannot meet our mission to protect the nation's freedom without a highly-trained, well-educated and expertly skilled force."
Targeting the best talent poses greater challenges for Army recruiters, as the service tries to meet its goal of 10,000 additional Soldiers in 2018. Already, only 29 percent of men and women age 17-24 qualify for military service.
"We live in an increasingly complex world and it's important our Army is ready to face any challenges that come our way," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, Army Recruiting Command commander. "And in order to be prepared, we've got to be properly manned. I've had the privilege of leading our recruiting effort for almost three years now, and our mission's not getting any easier."
Twin brothers Zacchaeus and Akili Williams, of Waldorf, Maryland, plan to join the Army for different reasons. Both will enter active duty as information technology specialists, as the service has targeted greater numbers for recruits in the technology and intelligence career fields.
"One of the things that I think is going to be very beneficial as we move in the future: we're going to have Soldiers that are going to have credentialed skillsets, especially in high technology fields like cyber and aviation," McConville said earlier this year.
Zacchaeus hopes to eventually qualify for the Army's Airborne and Ranger schools at Fort Benning, Georgia. Akili hopes to eventually become a professional photographer and to earn a degree in photography or journalism. Jaquan Day, also from Waldorf, will leave for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, June 19, to attend the Army's Engineer School.
Iden said the Army wants to create productive citizens, whether Soldiers choose to make the Army a career or not. Snyder, Zacchaeus Williams, Bethea and Day each expressed an interest in making the Army a career.
"We want everyone to be productive," Iden said. "And part of being in the Army is taking care of our family and our needs. I want qualified individuals to join the Army so that I can train you and educate you in the field that you've chosen to specialize in, which includes quality education."
Bethea will continue to pursue a college degree while working in the National Guard and plans to also to become an ambassador for the Army, educating children about military service.
Snyder plans to use her education to augment her Army career and eventually transition to active duty.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Snyder, who will train to work in Army intelligence at Fort Leonard Wood, will become the first woman in her family to join the military. As Snyder walked onto Summerall field here for the swearing-in ceremony, she also continued a family tradition.
On the very same field, the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, would perform minutes later as part of the weekly Twilight Tattoo pageant here. Snyder's grandfather, George Chambers, served in the same prestigious unit decades ago.
"I wanted to make my family and friends proud of me," said Snyder, who will graduate from Catoctin High School near Thurmont, Maryland, May 31. "It's been a childhood dream of mine to join the military."
Bethea's grandfather served in the Navy and his aunt, Shawnette Hardiman, served in Operation Desert Storm. That type of generational familiarity with service will pay dividends as the Army strives to meet its 2018 recruiting numbers, according to McConville. He also noted that 79 percent of new Soldiers have a family member who served in the military.
The Army's recruiting goals have become increasingly diverse as recruiters look for more technical skills. The Army's recruiting goals increased from 59,000 in 2016 to 76,500 for the active force alone.
"The Army is a city-state unto itself. We can go anywhere on our own and we need every skillset across the country," Iden said. "Every MOS is needed across the country."
Army Recruiting Command hosted a reception for veterans and community leaders prior to the weekly Twilight Tattoo performance. Snow emphasized the impact of former veterans on influencing communities and new recruits. The command has also turned to the retired Soldier's council to help Army recruiters with spreading a positive message about Army careers.