What military recruiters are looking for

Today's military service members are ready to give their lives in the line of duty if necessary. But more often than not, they are also building their careers as they serve our country and training new leaders for tomorrow.

America sends its best, our soldiers. One of those who answered the call seven years ago is U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeanneth Lopez. Make no mistake about it, this combat medic who did two tours in Afghanistan is "Army strong."

"I joined because I always wanted to serve the nation and I also wanted to help people, so I feel being a combat medic I can do both," Lopez said.

Now she spends her days stateside, helping recruit new soldiers. Unlike other branches, the Army is open to permanent residents with a green card and will help then fast track their citizenship. Starting pay is $1,600 a month but that includes room and board, full medical, and special allowances.

"Basic qualifications are similar for all the sister branches. There's an age requirement, it's between 17 and 35," Lopez said. "You have to pass the aptitude test with a minimum of 31 or higher, pass a medical examination, and pass a background check."

Lopez said that many potential recruits have the misconception that all soldiers end up in combat under fire.

"They think we only concentrate on combat and war itself, and they're not familiar with the fact that we have more than 150 different career paths that you can pursue," she said.

The Times Square Recruitment Center houses the various branches of the military, each offering unique experiences and opportunities. Technical Sgt. Lloyd Ervin Kimble is the son of a Navy veteran, but chose the Air Force for his career.

"What lured me to the Air Force is its mission of air, space and cyberspace, and I was a little nerdy growing up," Kimble said.

He has spent his life in various parts of the country and the world and is now encouraging young adults, especially in the Bronx, to enlist, as he did 10 years ago, and change their lives.

"One thing that's unique about the Air Force is that we do have our own community college of the Air Force, so all of our training is actually college accredited," he said. "When recruits start out in technical school, they're actually earning college credits the whole time."

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Elizabeth Ricketts enlisted 16 years ago. She loved the job of serving our country and saving lives so much that she stayed on.

"The job itself is exciting—every time I get transferred somewhere, the job changes," Ricketts said. "There's a new mission, new people."

Before becoming a recruiter, this single mother of two was an operations specialist coordinating dangerous rescues. The Coast Guard has a slightly different approach to assessing applicants.

"We have what's called the whole-person concept," Ricketts said. "So as recruiters, we get to make that decision about whether we feel this applicant is a good for the U.S. Coast Guard."

One benefit all branches offer is the post-9/11 GI Bill. After three years of active service, you qualify for four years of college tuition plus a housing allowance.


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