Taking the long shot

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Taking the long shot

"The military really can change your life and give you skills to succeed,”

Grace Ferguson

"The military really can change your life and give you skills to succeed,”

Grace Ferguson

Grace Ferguson

"The military really can change your life and give you skills to succeed,”

Paisley Regester, features writer

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He moves from table to table at the job fair, trying his best to avoid the Army recruiters he spots in the back. “That’s not for me. I could never do that,” he says to himself. Yet as he moves closer to their table, an enthusiastic recruiter catches his attention and asks him about his plans for the future. This brief conversation led Westley Moore to enlist in the Army as a teenager, a choice he believes is the best decision he has ever made. Now a tank operator and recruiter for the Army, Sergeant Moore can often be found at a table in the KHS commons, enthusiastically answering questions students may have about a future in the military.

According to Moore, many people join the military because of the educational and occupational opportunities it provides, such as financial assistance for future education, affordable housing and family support. He also said many students join the military as a last resort when plans to attend college fall through, often due to a lack of money.

“I hope when I’m out in the schools and talking to students, they really pay attention to what I’m saying. The military really can change your life and give you skills to succeed,” Moore said. “It can provide for a lot of our youth.”

According to Moore, the Army should advertise all the positions available in the military, such as medical, computer technology, journalism, photography and internet technology, not just the combat ones. He believes this would eliminate fear that often comes with military enrollment and could attract a wider variety of recruits.

“The Army has always portrayed itself as an elite fighting force with commercials that show helicopters flying in slow motion, a team of soldiers clearing buildings, explosions, and really intense stuff,” Moore said. “The thing that really holds people back when joining the military is the fear of getting deployed and the fear of being killed in combat jobs.”

According to Army officials, for the first time in over a decade, the Army fell short of its 76,500 soldier recruiting goal in 2018. But the Marines, Navy and Air Force met their recruiting goals. Moore said this could be the result of a new generation of individuals who require different recruiting techniques, such as the use of social media or personalized information sessions to promote Army involvement.

“Back in World War I and World War II we needed to appeal to people’s patriotism, but here we are in 2019, still trying to use that old fashioned ‘We want you’ recruiting,” Moore said. “We have to change the way we interact with the American people.”

Use the military to accelerate your life. ”

— Sergeant Westley Moore

Keyon Eversgerd, senior, said he was happy to be accepted into the Marine Corps. He will travel to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego June 10, where he hopes to remain in service for at least 20 years. Eversgerd said he is getting nervous as his shipping out date approaches, but is confident in his choice.

“[Joining the Marines] is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Eversgerd said. “It’s just been a gut feeling.”

Eversgerd’s future military position is infantry, meaning he will be a soldier who engages in combat on foot. Eversgerd said the action and large amount of ground work is what drew him to the Marines, rather than the Army, Navy or Air Force.

“Just follow your heart because you’ll feel when you’re talking to the wrong recruiter,” Eversgerd said. “Talk to each branch if you’re going to join, and see which feels right and what would be the smartest option for you.”

The military can also affect the family of those who are enlisted. Ella Cockrell, senior, moved from Arkansas to North Carolina to St. Louis because of her dad’s position in the military. Despite the extensive travel, she is grateful for the financial assistance her dad’s career has opened up for her.

“The opportunities [people in the military get] are really cool,” Cockrell said. “There’s the G.I. Bill that helps people in the military pay for college and my dad didn’t use his, so I get a free year of college.”

Like many other military children, Cockrell will often go long periods of time without seeing her father. She said that separation has been one of the toughest parts of her father’s involvement in the military.

“Not being able to see [my dad] and his unpredictable work schedule [is hard],” Cockrell said. “He has been deployed twice, which was difficult because I was too young to understand what was happening.”

Moore said deployment is one of the main concerns of individuals joining the military. Yet he encourages students to take the time to educate themselves about the different branches.

“My biggest advice would be to take advantage of every benefit and opportunity the military gives you.” Moore said. “Use the military to accelerate your life.”