Branching out to the military

Cole Mabry '19, Mikail Syed '20, Hunter Shook '20, and Erica Buettner '21 speak on why they have decided to join the military after high school.

From becoming an Air Force Pilot to attending West Point Military Academy, four West students speak on why the military is right for them.

“I have been blessed beyond what I can imagine being able to grow up in this country and to have the opportunities which I had been given, and I believe that I have truly lived the American Dream. This, as well as our foundational principles as a nation, is something that I believe is worth defending and sacrificing for,” said Cole Mabry ’19.

Mabry went to The West Point Military Academy and believes that the military is a good option after high school. Joining the military in any capacity helps pay off college tuition and provides a great income to start life off. The West Point Military Academy is a military academy set up like a university, they have majors and minors like any other, but their primary focus is to get students trained to be officers in the U.S. Army.

I feel like the military is a great foundation for me to earn a wage and work a real job, and then use the skills I learn to launch a business.”

— Mikail Syed '20

“I feel like the military is a great foundation for me to earn a wage and work a real job, and then use the skills I learn to launch a business. I’m currently formulating plans to join in some regard after college, which could be either a service academy or ROTC,” said Mikail Syed ’20.

Syed has applied to West Point to join the army because of the financial securities that it would bring. Benefits such as owning a house, paying for college, or saving for retirement make this choice worth it for Syed. If he does not get in to West Point he will join Navy ROTC to pay for college and get a degree in business in order to start his own business.

“What has inspired me to join the military is the financial benefits to afford a house and they help with saving for retirement,” said Syed.

Syed has some friends who have thought about joining the military and some who have joined. These friends have been encouraging him to stay on track and follow through on his goals.

ROTC or Reserve Officer’s Training Corps is a college program held by over 1700 universities, that trains people to become officers in the military, along with studying for a college degree. As an officer, you receive better benefits than enlistees, such as family travel which lets your family move around with you from base to base, and a decent pension.

In high school, you can participate in JROTC, a program that helps students become better citizens and learn more about the military through drills, competition and studying a naval science curriculum.

“Primarily, I would be interested in joining the military in hopes to become an Air Force pilot. Afterward, I would have all my flight training done and hours logged so I could go straight to a big airline like Delta, who usually hire pilots from the Air Force,” said Hunter Shook ’20.

Shook will directly enlist in the U.S. Air Force to be an Air Force Pilot and with those skills and credentials, he will fulfill his dream of becoming a big airline pilot. He was inspired by his father who was also in the Air Force and to serve his country. The idea first came to him from Kirkwood Career Day where he learned about the military.

“I’d like to join ROTC in college because they’ll pay for part of [or] most of college through scholarships and they also supplement for housing and books. I’m also interested in serving in the army [or] air force after because it’s a guaranteed job, unique work experience and you get paid to travel. Also, both of my parents served in the army and they have a lot of interesting stories and said that it helped them in later in life,” said Erica Buettner ’21.

Buettner is leaning towards the air force because they have jobs such as architecture directly in the military. Most of Buettner’s ancestry, including her parents and grandfather, were in the military. Her dad served 20 years and her mom served 10 years.

“The military is not going to be a career for me, it will just be a bridge between college and life,”  said Buettner.

After the military, she wants to continue as an architect, but if that does not work out then she will do something with communications or marketing.

“I have friends that have also thought about joining the military and some that have joined the military, and they have always helped me keep on track on joining the military,” said Syed.