A few months ago, high school senior Samantha made a huge, selfless decision: she decided to join the US Navy as soon as she graduated high school. Before she left for her first of many months of training and service at the beginning of this summer, I sat down to talk to her about her decision and what it would mean for her future:
Rachel: So, let’s just start off with something basic. What made you decide to enlist right out of high school?
Sam: To pay for college, great benefits- honestly, I’m gonna say money here as well. It’s giving me a career choice right out of high school, where I don’t have to train and get maybe a 50/50 shot at a job. My family has been in the military as well: my uncle and cousin have been in the Navy, and my grandpa was Army Airborne Division.
Rachel: All very valid reasons, definitely! Now, I don’t know much about the training process, so can you tell me a little bit about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing at boot camp this summer?
Sam: I’ll be flying up near Chicago, in the Great Lakes area; essentially, it’s just basic training for military. It’s different than other divisions, though; it’s only about eight and a half weeks, which is shorter than army training, with lots of physical training, exercises, and fitness tests. With all of this stuff, they’re trying to prepare you for what you might see out there. They gave us a book, actually, that we have to read through and sign off on before we even leave for training. It’s basic knowledge: recognizing rank, photonic alphabet, orders, even a creed- which is a lot short than the army’s, thankfully- chain of command, that sort of thing.
Rachel: So you’re pretty much already halfway there, even before you get to camp. I’m sure that’s a relief to you and will make adjusting at least a little bit easier.
Sam: It’s true; they really want you to learn before you get there. Some offices don’t require much, but the recruiting offices around here are teaching you beforehand. They want you to learn; we even practice basic marching at the office here.
Rachel: Even having learned the way things work beforehand, you still have quite a big move on your hands. How have you been preparing to make this big change? Taking it in stride?
Sam: Day by day, really. You study the book so you’re not blindsided by anything, ask sailors who come back about school. Practice, practice, and more practice.
I’m also trying to use my faith as I adjust to this new normal. I have a pendant that my family from Florida gave me: a gold St. Christopher pendant that they had blessed. I’m going to try to take it with me; I can’t wear it for training, but I can keep it in my bunk, at least. They also offer mass every week, and I’m planning on taking my bible along as well- all things to help make the adjustment easier.
Written/Edited by: Rachel Wood