Since 1973, the U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force of recruits dedicated to serving our country, deterring and combatting threats that endanger us and our allies. However, the military needs over 150,000 new recruits to maintain its strength each year. 

Military recruiters should be allowed in high schools because they serve to benefit both our national security and students. For one, military service opens many practical educational and career paths for students. These careers encompass a diverse range of fields like agriculture, tourism, marketing, public safety and much more. 

After high school, students are all too often coerced to go down the singular path of higher education. A whopping 65% of college students now graduate with debt. However, many students do not realize that there are other options. The military offers hundreds of employment positions based on your skills and interests far beyond going to war or fighting. In fact, in 2019, only around 10% of military members saw combat. Recruits can choose to enlist for two-, three- or six-years. Although many may feel reluctant to enlist, recruiters like Staff Sergeant Krystal Currin help educate students about possible future careers. 

“I’m here to provide information to students willing to join the military [and] see what options they have career-wise,” Currin said. “We can do other things than just go overseas and fight. I work in the IT field where I’m fixing satellites, computers and phones.”

Additionally, people with military experience are highly respected in society for their service. Most people who enlist come from families with generations of military experience. Military recruiters can help these students achieve their goals, such as senior Dylan Smith. Smith will begin his basic Army training in August.

“Joining the military has always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. My sister’s been in the Air Force for six or seven years. She proved that it’s obtainable to join the military and make a career out of it,” Smith said. 

In addition, recruiters can increase feelings of patriotism in students. This can help students develop their sense of identity and belonging as they strive to help people who are suffering worldwide and make our country a better place. The military plays a huge role in disaster relief and humanitarian aid, treating over 400,000 patients in the Pacific and Indian Oceans alone. For adolescents who are unsure about their futures, joining the military can give them a positive purpose. 

The military also is taking action to improve gender and racial equality within its ranks. The Department of Defense’s Diversity and Inclusion Board has promoted the representation of different ethnicities and religions, particularly in higher officer roles. Furthermore, in 2015, the military officially opened all occupations and specialties to women. 

In addition, military careers offer many benefits and can break down financial barriers that may stop students from pursuing college. The military’s tuition assistance program offers around $4,500 per year for those who qualify, depending on the branch. Other education benefits can be gained through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill, although there are criteria for qualification. Enlisting in the military may help students continue to pursue higher education by reducing cost barriers. By shouldering some of the burden of student debt, which often leaves graduates unable to buy a home or start a family, the military sets its members up for an unfettered financial future. 

The military also helps members pursue industry skills to help them transition back into successful civilian jobs after their service. The Army Credentialing Opportunities Online program, for example, helps enlistees get certified and licensed in many different career fields as they develop real job experience.

Also, many recruits can get bonuses upon enlistment, with the Army offering a combined bonus of up to $50,000. Smith reported that his sister was able to buy a car with her Air Force benefits. Additional benefits include the ability to work for up to 60 days of leave every two years, career counseling, housing assistance and healthcare through Tricare or Veteran’s Affairs (VA) care.

“The VA health care system should be the fundamental care system for society. It provides necessary medical care to what veterans need,” West parent and VA physician Yafei Huang said. 

As the nation’s largest integrated health care system, the VA covers and provides substantial services, including surgery, mental health, dental services and more. 

Thus, if jobs and colleges are allowed to recruit high school students, the military should be able to present itself as a beneficial alternative. The military seeks to protect and serve all of us living in the U.S., and recruiters help educate us about this important force.

These recruiters are not forcing anyone to consider enlistment. In fact, they are present to provide information to students interested in the military. Through friendly competitions, recruiters also promote fun physical activity and distribute awards to students like chips and water bottles. Many of these recruiters are taught proper doctrines and procedures for recruitment that help ensure ethical practices.

Although the myth that military recruiters specifically target underprivileged students is often perpetuated, in reality, more recruits come from middle-income families.  Primarily, the military seeks to recruit youth with the potential to succeed in service, with about two-thirds of recruits in the top half of math and verbal aptitude in America. Recruiters have high standards for choosing who will serve in our military. 

Recruiters offer a realistic future option for high school students with many financial and health benefits. By holding contests and engaging with interested students, recruiters can introduce students to a new world of career options.