Saluting the seniors goodbye


Ben Johnson

Daniel Garces and Spencer Intress will be serving our country next year.

Ben Johnson, Writer

Figuring out future plans after graduating high school can be quite a daunting task. Is the four-year college option the right one? Perhaps a two-year technical college could be a solid option, or maybe joining the workforce right out of high school is the most appropriate choice. Among the numerous possibilities available post-graduation, one that may be commonly overlooked is the opportunity to join the military. The military can be a great way to get a good paying job, acquire college education benefits and help preserve your country’s liberty and freedom. There are five branches of the United States Military: the Army, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Navy and the Coast Guard. There are 10 graduating seniors this year going into the military with a mix of them going into the National Guard, the Air Force and the Marine Corps.

According to U.S. Army Recruiting Command, there are 33.4 million Americans aged 17 to 24. With age 17 to 24 being the prime age the U.S. military has interest in, this would seem like a good thing, but in reality, it is estimated that only 136,000 young people would have an interest in joining the military. It seems as though most young Americans view the military as a last resort for their future, not a top choice. According to ArmyTimes, “A large number of people who join the army do so because they have a family member who serves or served.” They have more exposure to the idea, and they have a more accurate picture of what the military is really like. If there was more awareness about enlisting into the military and its potential benefits, more people would be inclined to serve.

The National Guard is part of the Armed Forces with both Army National Guard positions and Air Force National Guard positions. Spencer Intress is entering the National Guard after graduation as an Army Reserve. Intress has had his mind on the Army since he was in first grade, and after plenty of research of his own, he knew the National Guard was going to be the best fit for him when he was 15 years old. He was drawn to the National Guard because of the many opportunities it offers, such as free college and selfless service, all while being able to live a civilian lifestyle. Intress said, “I plan on pursuing a degree in criminal justice and a minor in ROTC. Ideally, I would like to be an active duty officer and have a lifelong career with the Army.”

The opportunities drew me in. In the service, mostly everything is provided like healthcare and housing. Also, the opportunity for travel is great. I’m excited to see where I will be stationed.

— Jessica Pieper

The Air Force is a branch of the military that specializes in the aerial aspect of The United States Armed Forces. Jessica Pieper is entering the Air Force after graduation. Pieper was not 100 percent set on joining the Air Force until her junior year, but it had always been an idea in the back of her head. Pieper said, “The opportunities drew me in. In the service, mostly everything is provided like healthcare and housing. Also, the opportunity for travel is great. I’m excited to see where I will be stationed.” Jessica is not entirely sure on her plans after her service, but she will most likely attend college and acquire a degree that is related to her job in public service.

Ben Johnson
Jessica Pieper will be entering the Air Force after graduation.

The United States Marine Corps, or the Marines, is a branch of the military that emphasizes quick strike force to protect any United States interest around the world. Daniel Garces will be entering the Marines next year to serve the country. Garces has wanted to join the Marines since he was a freshman, because he has liked what they stand for as a branch, and has wanted to be a part of something greater than himself. Garces said, “I’ll see what kind of skills I’ll be able to learn while in the Marine Corps, and also with the G.I. Bill I’ll get a degree in something business related.”

The G.I. Bill was introduced in 1944 as a law that provided a variety of benefits for returning World War II veterans. While the original bill expired in 1956, the term “G.I. Bill is still used today in reference to programs that assist the military in acquiring an education either while they are currently serving or after their service. The G.I. Bill is helpful to veterans and their family members with covering the cost for training and further education.

Armsmen Spencer Intress, Airwoman Jessica Pieper, and Marine Daniel Garces are just three of the 10 graduating students joining the military,  and they are doing their part to show the excellent opportunities and benefits the military has to offer. There is a large number of paths to take after graduation, and joining the military is definitely one to pay attention to. With great representation in Owatonna, it is safe to say joining the military can be both a smart and selfless choice.