From graduation to boot camp, students prepare to join armed forces

Meg Smith

With graduation right around the corner, it’s the elephant in every senior room: the future. Some are traveling off to college and some are taking a year off. But others are debating between which branch of the armed forces to join.

Aaron Duffy, 17, has decided  to join the Army National Guard.

“I’ve always wanted to do it,” Duffy said. “My family has a lot of military background.”

Senior Lauren Dinkins also has family in the armed forces.

“My brother is active duty,” Dinkins said. “And since I don’t live with my family, it makes me feel closer to him.”

Dinkins plans to make a career out of the Army National Guard, which, due to armed forces rules, can only be 22 years long.

However, other future soldiers have different plans for their careers.

A future police officer, Spencer Mellinger, 18, decided to join the Marines after graduation. He will head to boot camp in August.

“I get money for college to go into the police academy,” Mellinger said. “It’s the most direct route there.”

But while some might think making the choice is the roughest part, they haven’t hit boot camp yet.

The Marines require a mile and a half in 13 minutes and 30 seconds, 44 military crunches in two minutes, and four pull- ups.

“I see the other kids slacking off [in weight training class] and I know I can’t afford to do that,” Mellinger said.

The Army National Guard also has strict standards for sit-ups, push-ups, and a two -mile run.

“All winter I’ve been working out three times a day with a run, some cardio, and lifting weights,” Duffy said.

Senior Bryce Kent, 18, has also decided to join the Army National Guard.

“So far I’ve done some hand -to -hand combat training,” Kent said.

Dinkins has lost 42 lbs. since joining the Army National Guard due to her intense cardio classes. She has been running every day, doing power step classes, and kick boxing.

“I know what I have to do to get where I need to be,” Dinkins said.

The basic training might be physically exhausting, but these future soldiers need to worry about the mental exhaustion as well.

“The hardest part has been keeping motivated to work out,” Kent said.

Dinkins knows the importance of keeping a strong mind and pushing through the physical training.

“I am not weak minded,” Dinkins said. “[The military] will break you down and then build you back up.”

And others have expectations after they break through the basic training.

“I just hope to come out more of a man,” Duffy said. “I want to be more mentally mature.”

Dinkins also has anticipations, but on a bit broader spectrum.

“I want to get women into the infantry,” Dinkins said. “One day they’ll have to use a woman just as much as they’ll have to use a man.”