POCATELLO, Idaho -- Idaho Army National Guard Pvt. Richard Briscoe is 17, attends high school at New Horizons High School in Pocatello, plays defensive end for the school's football team, and is the captain of the Portneuf Valley rugby team. One weekend a month he trades his football pads or rugby cleats in for an Idaho Army National Guard uniform and boots, where he serves his community and is eligible for benefits that can greatly enhance his future.

"I wanted to do something good for myself to make myself a better man," Briscoe said. "If I joined the Army, I knew they'd give me the discipline I needed, but in the Idaho Army National Guard I knew I could have a civilian career and still be in the Army."

Briscoe enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard in February and attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, over the summer. At the conclusion of the school year he will return to Fort Sill for Advance Individual Training to earn his military occupational specialty, 13J fire control specialist.

Briscoe called basic training a life-changing experience. "I came back into the civilian world with a bigger, better work ethic," he said.

To prepare for basic training, Briscoe spent his drill weekends attending the Idaho Army National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program. New Soldiers participate in the program, led by Idaho's Recruiting and Retention Battalion, until they have completed basic and AIT.

Because he enlisted in February, Briscoe only attended a few drills before he left for basic training. He said he practiced land navigation, water survival training and military vehicle familiarization training.

"It definitely helped prepare me for basic training," he said.

Briscoe was a platoon guide during basic training and feels school has been easier since returning home.

As a member of the Idaho Army National Guard, Briscoe receives a paycheck for each training period he attends, including basic training, and is eligible for the GI Bill and federal and state tuition assistance programs to help pay for college. He also received a $20,000 enlistment bonus. Briscoe said he plans to attend Idaho State University after AIT.