The Military Alternative

Drew Gazetos, Staff Writer

The job of a soldier is never easy. It requires a tremendous commitment, time away from friends and family, and of course perilous, life threatening danger. Yet, amidst the chaos of selecting a post-high school career, some students have chosen the Armed Forces as their career path. It is a journey into the unknown, a great leap from small town life in Bethel.

These students don’t see a career based on the academics at college. Some would already employ the more technical skills they already possess.

Michael Kaluta (’12), for instance, is enlisting in the United States Army with the intention of using the Armed Forces as an alternative to a college degree. “I enlisted because I didn’t want to go to college,” states Kaluta. “My job in the army is very similar to what I learned in EMT class.”

While Kaluta is looking forward to pursuing his career, he does acknowledge that his career choice is not free of disadvantages. After all, the United States is currently at war in the Middle East and recruits also have the potential to be deployed in the region. “A risk factor is that I could be sent overseas into a warzone,” notes Kaluta.

As Jaclynn Veillux (’12), an enlistee in the Army Reserves explains, “Everyone’s life is in jeopardy no matter what Military Occupational Specialty. The enemy doesn’t know if the Humvee you’re traveling on is filled with Infantry or just maintenance picking up supplies. Anything can happen.”

Although, one of the things that makes the armed forces so appealing to these students is the variety of careers offered- many of which are almost risk free. Some recruits, such as Devon Smith (’12) who enlisted in the Navy, are confident in their safety. “Depending on the job you sign up for when you enlist, there are varying degrees of danger,” says Smith. “A weapon’s expert or a pilot will be in much more danger than a desk job. My job doesn’t have a lot of risk to it.”

Those who have already attended training and have begun various military activities in the Reserve, note that the experience is well worth it. Nathalie Racines (’12), who is a specialist and will be deployed in Afghanistan this December, along with her fellow student and battle buddy Jaclyn Veillux, explains that, “I enlisted for money in the beginning but, now that I’m actually in it and I know my unit the money doesn’t even matter. I found a place where I fit in surrounded with people who have my back.” For some, the environment and camaraderie of the military is what makes it stand out as a career path among other alternatives.

Whatever the reason, Bethel High School enlistees seem proud of their commitments and ready to face their futures. “I just can’t imagine my life without the Navy or ever wearing a uniform again,” states Smith, a committed NJROTC cadet, “I enlisted because it’s the only future I can clearly envision for myself.”