Everyone remembers military recruiters sitting behind a booth in their high school cafeteria, but few remember the sailors or soldiers talking about their military careers in the classrooms.
That’s the inspiration behind a new Navy program started by Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert. His instructions were simple: he asked the Sailors working for him to take on an additional mission as they traveled around the world — tell their Navy stories to young Americans.
Greenert’s goal, then and now, is for young Americans to gain a greater understanding of what it means to serve in the military and the opportunities a life in uniform can provide by hearing the stories of active-duty Sailors.
The philosophy behind the program is that many American school children simply have never heard what it is that sailors do, and what a naval career entails. It’s hoped that by hearing from successful, well-trained sailors that high schools students will think of the Navy, not just as a temporary adventure, but as a viable career.
“This is one of the ways we in the Navy can compete with Fortune 500 companies for the best talent in the nation,” said Lt. Cmdr. Henry Gourdine. “By having deckplate leaders visit schools and tell students honestly about their own experiences in the Navy, they can see someone who is just a few years removed from where they sit and know that they can achieve the same goals.”
Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Fletcher believes academics are the foundation for whatever career students choose in life.
“The Navy provided me with the opportunity for education, and I tell them about the many opportunities I have had in the Navy,” Fletcher said. “These students are smart; they ask very pointed questions, and they are interested in preparing now for the future.”
And one of the prime ways that men and women can meet their academic goals while serving in the Navy is by taking advantage of the benefit known as Navy Tuition Assistance, or TA, as it is commonly known across the service branches.
Navy TA provides sailors with $4,500 a year in funds that they can use for career training. The money renews each year and sailors can use it at accredited vocational training schools, community colleges or universities.
This is especially important for people who are looking to make the navy a career and eventually reach the Sr. Chief Petty officer rank in the Navy. Starting in 20ll, all E-8 sailors must have an associate degree at the minimum. Sailors who wish to reach the rank of E-8 should consider using their TA funds to earn their associate degree
In terms of earning a bachelor’s degree, many service members consider majoring in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree is a great fit for military personnel because service members may have already experienced the kind of training that police officers are required to have.
Even if a Sailor chooses to spend 20 years in the Navy, a degree in criminal justice will open up the possibility of a law enforcement career when they return to civilian life.