The Army Recruiting Agency in Guntersville is enlisting members from the ages of 17 to 35.
The enlisting age is 17 minimum and 35 is the maximum. If you have served in the Army previously, they take that into account. There is a different formula for those over the age of 35. Basically, they subtract your active duty years from your actual age to get your Army age.
The way they determine if you physcally qualify is a little different than it once was. The physical measurements are taken differently. For a male, they measure the portion across the Adam’s apple on the neck and then measure around the waist at the belly button. For a female, they measure the smallest part of the waist which is typically right under the rib cage, the center of the hips and the neck as well. With the measurements in both male and female, they determine and calculate the overall body fat. They also factor into account the height and weight of the person.
Active duty is one of the easiest ways to explain what is full-time Army and part-time school. You can go to school part time and it is paid for. You are in the Army like a full-time job. You get 30 days of vacation each year and you could be traveling with your job.
The Army Reserve is opposite, built for someone who already has a career or wants to be a full-time college student. It will help pay for school and in some cases, it will pay for all of your schooling. It is only one weekend a month and two weeks out of a year that you train with the Army.
Staff Sergeant (SSG) Frankie Dupree gave an example of a high school student who wants to graduate and then go to college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. They could find a job for them to go to that is in Huntsville. That is an advantage if you want to stay in or around your location.
In some instances, they offer bonuses for those who apply. A lot of this stems from how well you do on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB). It is the entry exam for getting into the military. The higher your score, the more opportunities you have for bonuses. They also offer seasonal bonuses and active duty bonuses which can amount up to $40,000. The reserve bonus can reach as high as $20,000 plus any kind of special kickers which you get on the GI Bill. This can be up to an extra $350 a month or $50,000 for student loans. This money can be used for prior or future loans.
Before any decisions are made, the candidate will have the option to look at the jobs they qualify for. They can base their decision on their interests. For instance, Dupree said they put a young man in a Huntsville Reserve Unit as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist (CBRN). He got a $20,000 bonus, a $350 kicker a month and $40,000 for school loans.
The testing has 8 sections with 4 main sections that calculate your overall ASVAB score. Those sections are arithmetic reasoning, paragraph comprehension, math knowledge and word knowledge. Those are the four main ones, but the rest of the sections have a lot of formula which determines your line scores. The line score is the score that determines what you qualify for in the army.
There are over 150 different career opportunities in the Army.
“It is pretty awesome,” Dupree said. “A lot of times people will come and see us thinking that they only offer what my job used to be, which was infantry, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We have air and space, cyber, engineering, combat, intelligence, science and medicine, signal and support logistics, but just about any career you want to do in the civilian world there is a job like it in in the Army.”
The Army offers a free tutoring website, march2success.com. They give this information to a lot of the high school students who are trying to study for this test as well as to educators. As an educator, you can monitor the progress of students. As a student, not only is a great prep for the ASVAB, but it is also a good prep for the ACT.
They do offer the practice test onsite. If a person is qualified and interested in joining, they put them on a practice test which takes about 20 to 30 minutes. It cuts into the four main sections. They can usually tell how a student will do before he or she takes the actual ASVAB. If you fail the test, you will have 30 days that you have to wait to take the test again. If you fail after those 30 days, there is one more 30 day wait before a 6-months wait. If you fail the third time, you must wait 2 years from the first time you took the test.
Therefore, Dupree encourages students along with anyone interested in the Army to use march2success.com. These sections can be taken as many times as a student wants.
They schedule the ASVAB at high schools with the guidance counselors or the principals and it is planned out well in advance. These tests can be in the gymnasium, a lunchroom or a classroom. It depends on what works best for the school. Some of the schools make it mandatory for the juniors to take this test, but a lot of the time the students may not try because they do not understand what it is for.
Dupree wants students to understand that they need to take their time on the test and do the best they can even if they do not plan on joining the Army. It is always good to have options when you graduate.
Applicants sometimes have the option to take the test at the recruiting office. This test is called the pre-screening, Internet-delivered computer adaptive test (PiCAT) and if they pass it, they will can take them to a confirmation test which will ask a couple questions they got correct on the other test just to make sure they did not cheat. The second process takes about 15 minutes. If they pass that part, that becomes their ASVAB score.
If someone comes in and they were not able to enroll them in the PiCAT, they schedule them to take the test at Gadsden State College.
Some things that may disqualify someone from being in the Army is a criminal history, medical history and a poor score on the test.
Criminal trouble does not necessarily disqualify someone. It depends on the charge and the amount of time that has passed since the charge. In some cases, they can submit a moral waver depending on what it was.
A lot of medical factors can keep a person out of the Army, but with some medical issues, a medical waver can be submitted which allows the person to be considered for enlistment. One permanent disqualifier is someone who actively has asthma or actively takes medication for asthmatic issues. Just because they may have a history of asthma does not mean they are automatically disqualified.
If there are medical issues, there are some processes they can go through. They collect medical records, submit them to the doctors at the military processing station and they can make the determination if the person trying to get into the Army will be qualified or disqualified.
At the Army Recruiting Center in Guntersville, Dupree admits that they are not doctors, but they will help you by having you take the necessary steps to getting in the army. The staff will have you submit your medical records and see if you qualify. There are a lot of circumstances where people believe that they cannot make it in the Army, but they probably could.
He said another aspect of not getting into the Army is failing the test or being overweight. If you do not meet the standard for the height and weight test, they will work with you on losing the weight or gaining the weight necessary. The staff loves when someone comes in to work with them. They have a training area and invite anyone who wants to come out to visit with them on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Around 20 percent of those 17-24, which is the target group for enlistment, is actually qualified for the military. Having a GED does not stop you from joining the Army.
One of the best websites for information on the Army and recruiting processes is www.goarmy.com.
Their new slogan “What’s Your Warrior?” was released in November and it is geared towards helping you find your place in the Army. It is showing that the Army offers more than just combat skills.
“Everyone in the Army comes from a different walk of life, a different upbringing or has different qualities," Dupree said. "That is kind of how it is in the Army, not everyone is the same,” Dupree said. “I think a lot of times, people think because we wear these uniforms that we are kind of like robots. That is not true. We all have our own personalities and do our own jobs in the Army that we chose to do. Honestly, that is why we have the greatest army in the world. Right now, too, it is great because it is an all-volunteer army. Here you have someone who chooses to be on the team in a job they chose to do.”
Actual induction into the Army is typically a two-day process. You will go down a day before to Montgomery and stay in a hotel free of charge. They will provide you a dinner and a breakfast. You will have to be extremely early the next morning and take a 10-minute bus ride to the military processing station.
Once there, you will go through a physical. After that, you will sit down with the Army counselors and they will pull your temporary reservations and make sure that is what you want to do.
After everything is finalized, you will swear to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. You will come back and be known as a “future soldier.” You will train to get prepared for basic training.
Once you get into basic training, you will go through in-processing for typically a week and this is where you will be issued gear, military ID card, the uniforms and make sure pay is set up correctly. You will do some light physical training at this stage.
After you ship to basic training, it is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, Dupree said. He said this means that it is not overly difficult physically, it is just something you are not used to. For him personally, the hardest part was being away from home for the first time. He has a large family and that was hard for him. Lots of people say is the hardest part.
You will learn everything from first aid to land navigation skills. You will do a whole lot of classroom training and repel down a tower. He said it is pretty cool to do that. The training includes an obstacle course. Dupree said that it was fun for him. There is a lot of marching and carrying weight for many miles.
You will get to do a field exercise towards the end of basic training where you will get to learn some infantry tactics. You will get to practice kicking in doors, shoot a whole lot of different guns and throw 2 live grenades. During this process you will learn some battle drills that are taught in the Army and at the end of that you will be basically done.
This process takes 9 weeks and 4 days.
He tells everyone who comes through that they will forever remember their drill sergeants. They are truly the best leaders the United States Army has to offer, he said. They are tasked with a very important job and that is to teach you what it means to be a solider.
In Dupree's experience and his opinion, basic training is the number one reason people do not want to join the military. He does not think that there is anyone who wears the uniform who was not extremely nervous when they first came in. Making it through basic training is a needed and small part of the Army career.
After you get through basic training, you attend advanced individual training. The length varies depending on job choice. This training will be geared towards your specific field.
Once you get to your unit, it is like a basic job. The Army pays you to stay physically fit. You will get up and put on your physical training uniform, form up and salute the flag, then you will do physical training for an hour to an hour and half. Once you have done that then you will go to work and get off just like everyone else as long as you are back at it the same way the next morning.
For deployment, you do not typically get to chose where you go. There may be certain circumstances that keep you from deploying and even certain jobs that keep you from deploying; however, when you chose your job, there is a 100 percent possibility that you may be deployed. If you do get deployed, you would be going for the job you signed up for. Dupree says he tells people all the time that his job was an infantry man and he never went into the chow halls and told the cooks to come and help him kick down the doors. The cooks had just as important a job as they did. They had to have a good hot cooked meal on the table waiting for those in the field.
There is more to the military than blowing stuff up, Dupree said. You go over there to build relationships, to build bridges and he means that literally and figuratively.
On the active duty side, there are 2 years contracts, but they suggest the 3-year contact because it pays for 100 percent of the GI bill and a 2-year pays for 80 percent. A 3-year contract is typical, but there are some specialized areas in the Army that require more training and may require a 6-year contract.
They try to recommend the 3-year contract because even if they do not want to go to college now, they will have the option to use it later down the road. To have their schooling paid for is the best, Dupree. It is one of the best reasons to join. Someone from the military could walk onto the University of Alabama and know that their schooling is paid for through the GI Bill. It is a great benefit to being a solider.
In the Reserve, you are required to serve a 6-year contact because of the one weekend a month and 2 weeks out of the year. Dupree said that comes out to less than 2 years of training time once it is all added up.
Being in the military helps you with leadership skills, time management, communication, teamwork and all of these aspects are desirable to civilian employers and are something you will learn in the United States Army, Dupree siad.
Dupree understands that this path is not for everyone, but he believes a lot of that comes from misconception. At the end of the day, after you have told him about your goals in life, he can show you a career path in the army that is made for you. He said that helping with the cost of education and career experience is just part of being in the military.
You can reach the local Army recruiting station at 256-878-2884.