Recruiters give high schoolers the Guard Experience - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Recruiters give high schoolers the Guard Experience

Updated:

April 29, 2008

Sylvester--  National Guard troops help out with everything from disasters close to home to war zones in faraway countries. Now, the Guard is reaching out to high school students to help them continue those missions.

Recruiters held a Guard Experience event in Worth County Tuesday.  It's a chance for recruiters to pitch the benefits of joining. 

It has some perks.  There's up to $20,000 for a sign-on bonus and free education offers. Those things sound good to adults.  They sound especially good to teenagers. But signing on the dotted line can take them to some very grown up places.

On a rock climbing wall set up by recruiters, 16-year-old Ashley Walker and friends climb to the top.  "I'm sort of scared of heights," said Walker.

But as she climbs, she's counting down the days. "Four months exactly," said Walker.

That's how long it will be until she can officially enlist in The Georgia National Guard. "And I can't wait," said Walker.

She can't wait, but she has a long way to go. "It takes some strength to get up there," said Walker about the wall.

Ashley's only in the 11th grade at Worth County High School. She's one of the hundreds of students National Guard recruiters are reaching out to for enlistment. "They're serving their country and they're serving the state of Georgia," said SFC Shawn Wood.

So far those recruitment efforts are working. "In fact, in Georgia, we met our goal for the year last month and it's been that way for the last three years running," said Wood.

The war in Iraq is five years running now. Many National Guard members are there.  These students realize that. "Patriotism. People did it for me. I'm going to do it for them," said 18-year-old recruit Casey Swain.

"I always saw myself doing something like this," said 18-year-old recruit Jalisa Tolbert.

Ashley's biggest attraction to the National Guard was her future. "I get a free education and a good job so I'm definitely ready," said Walker.

And for that she's willing to climb. "It's going to take all the muscles you've got in the military," said Walker.

To get to the top, she's using her country as a rope and holding on to a decision she made early.

Recruiters say the guard is attractive to many young people because they can stay in their hometowns and only serve one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer when they're not called to active duty.  

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