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Joining The National Guard
The military is made up of multiple branches. Some of the branches include the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard. The oldest and the one I will be attempting to join is the National Guard. The National Guard was established on December 13, 1636, in Massachusetts. The reason for its establishment was to build up a defense against the growing threat of Pequot Indians. Today, 383 years later, the National Guard is still fully operational and still protects and serves the United States.
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Mainly, The National Guard is known for helping out the state that the soldier lives in. Say you were an Indiana National Guard Soldier like I aspire to be. Your job would be to assist Indiana with natural disasters that could occur here, such as a blizzard, flood, or tornado. Different states have different natural disasters to deal with. Indiana would not have an issue with a hurricane as Florida would, and Indiana would not have a run-in with a 5.6 level earthquake like Calfornia. Even though assisting with natural disasters is one of the main missions of the National Guard, it is not their only purpose. The National Guard can be deployed in combat areas just like any other branch of the military if needed. Since the National Guard is a part of the US Army, their uniforms and other aspects of their operations are nearly identical.
The artifact I associate with the military is not dog tags, but actually the uniform itself. I say this because the uniforms are different for each branch. This helps each branch have its own uniqueness. Marines have a dark blue outfit lined with golden buttons adorned with a white cap. The Navy has an entirely white outfit, just like you would imagine a sailor to have. Unlike the other two that have solid colors, the Army has a camo outfit. Camo is a mix of different shades of green in a splatter-like pattern that has actually become a fashion trend in the past couple of years. I believe the difference in uniforms helps add personality to each branch and says something about them. Once I become a part of the military community, I will receive my uniform, which is the same as the Army’s uniform. It will display only my last name on the right of my chest, and “U.S. Army” on the other. I think that it is really cool to see soldiers in their uniforms. When I arrived at the Fort Wayne Armory to take the PiCAT test, I got lost, and a soldier helped me find my way inside. I did not get a look at the name on his uniform, but I will be forever grateful to that man. Another soldier, who goes by the title Sergeant Salas, had me sign papers. They were both really nice to me, and they were very professional. The whole experience made me appreciate the Army uniform more. It was like the people who wore it had an air of dignity around them, and I know that a lot goes into getting that uniform.
To get a uniform, a soldier has to complete Basic Combat Training (BCT), which is what civilians call boot camp. BCT is a ten-week process. During this time, the participants go from civilian to soldier. National Guard recruits can be sent to a couple of different locations, such as the following: Fort Jackson, (Columbia, South Carolina), Fort Knox (Louisville, Kentucky), Fort Leonard Wood (Waynesville, Missouri), Fort Sill (Lawton, Oklahoma), and Fort Benning (Columbus, Georgia). The training bases for different branches of the military are located in different areas across the United States. Although I am from Hicksville, Ohio, I am in Fort Wayne for college, so if I get accepted, I will be in the Indiana National Guard. I will most likely be sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina. While it has the nickname “Relaxin’ Jackson”, I know better than to think Basic Combat Training will be easy. Basic Combat Training is split into three phases during the ten weeks. The first phase is the red phase, which is from weeks one to three. In this phase, soldiers will learn the Army’s core ethics and values, assembling and disassembling an M16, and how to handle a rowdy crowd. They will also undergo combatives such as guerilla and hand-to-hand combat exercises. The trainees will go through fitness training like marching and running. The second phase is the white phase, which is only weeks four to five. In this phase, they will continue to practice what they have been learning, as well as night training, map reading, and rifle practice. Rifle practice includes zeroing a rifle, engaging targets, and focusing on multiple targets practice. The last phase is the blue phase, which is from weeks six to nine. In this phase, soldiers will do 10-kilometer and 15-kilometer tactical foot marches, practice more with rifles and other weapons, disarming bombs and landmines, as well as the End of Cycle Test (EOCT) and Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). The End of Cycle test is made up of 212 tasks that must be completed in order to graduate. The Army Fitness Test is different for each individual, depending on the age and gender of the soldier. Girls have fewer push-ups and sit-ups, and a slower 2-mile requirement than boys. The last week is known as Graduation Week. This week is primarily about finishing final training events which include a 15-kilometer march back to post. After finishing the last of their training, soldiers get to meet up with their families and tell them about their time at boot camp. After that, soldiers will be sent off to Advanced Individual Training.
My biggest fear in possibly joining the military is not being mentally tough enough. I am the type of girl who will burst into tears even if the person scolding me is not doing it to purposefully hurt my feelings. In the military, that is their goal–to purposefully hurt my feelings. They want you to quit; they want to weed out the weak ones. Not being physically tough is also a worry of mine, but it is not nearly as big as my fear of breaking down. I have been running and practicing my sit-ups and push-ups. To even go to boot camp in the Spring, I have to meet their standards, which means 13 push-ups, 47 sit-ups, and a 19:42 two-mile run. The only thing I can do as of right now is the 47 sit-ups, and even then, the lower part of my back hurts from the impact of hitting the ground so many times. My wrists feel like they are going to break off from the rest of my body when I attempt a push-up. My entire body shakes and I cannot keep the proper position for a push-up to save my life. My stomach starts to curve towards the ground, and it really hurts my back. Since I cannot do them properly, I have been looking up how to do push-ups for beginners on YouTube. The recommendation has been to start with wall push-ups, which is a blow to my pride. In high school, I used to be able to do “guy push-ups”, meaning straight down, no knees, 90-degree push-ups. As for the two-mile run, I can currently run it in about 21 minutes. I ran down the road at my house and completed it in 21 minutes and 13 seconds. This is yet another jab at my pride. I was in cross-country during my senior year of high school, and I was running three miles at around 24 minutes. I feel like I am unable to do anything I could just a few months ago. In an attempt to reach the standards for boot camp, I am trying to work out every other day to get in shape. I am only doing every other day so that I can stay on top of my grades.
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The main reason I am joining the National Guard is for tuition assistance. Once I complete Basic Combat Training, I will go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT), where I will hopefully become a Public Affairs Mass Communication Specialist, otherwise known as 46 Sierra, in the National Guard. That is the job I want. In order for this to happen, I have to pass the Military Entrance Processing Station, also known as the acronym MEPS. During this process, I will undergo a physical. Most of the individuals going to MEPS will take a test known as the ASVAB, but I have already been to the Fort Wayne Armory to take the PiCAT, a similar test. I scored a 71, which was high enough to qualify for the job I want and the GI Bill Kicker, but I also qualified for bonus jobs. The GI Bill Kicker gives me $350 a month to spend on whatever I see fit. The bonus jobs have a $20,000 sign-on bonus, but I am not interested in any of the ones I qualified for. They are all related to mechanics, and that is not my specialty.
To be a Public Affairs Mass Communication Specialist, the job requires that I have an eye for detail, have an interest in English, journalism, communications, computers and photography, as well as the ability to write clearly and concisely. My major is Communication, with a focus on journalism. The job is perfect for me. If I am able to get this job in the National Guard, I will have a job related to my major during and even after college. The salary of a Public Affairs Mass Communication Specialist in the National Guard is $57,462, which is more than I would make as a journalist in most areas. The salary of a journalist in Indiana can range from $22,200 to $52,400. I will be earning a salary and getting my college tuition completely covered by the National Guard. The next step in my process to become a National Guard soldier is MEPS. After that, I will be on my way to earning my uniform and starting my training.
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