Community support required to inspire future generations of Army leaders

With the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 and the Army’s 244th birthday on June 14, this is the perfect time to reflect on the impact the Army has made on our nation and also discuss ways today’s youth can continue the proud legacy for generations to come.

Mario A. Guerra

Mario A. Guerra

About 50 percent of today’s young people admit they know little to nothing about their nation’s military – the people who work daily to protect their freedom. They don’t understand the depth of the knowledge and technical skills they can learn in 150 different career paths. They don’t understand the degrees they can earn or that the benefits and perks often match or surpass those offered by civilian employers.

Only 29% of youth meet the minimum qualifications to serve as a Soldier. Obesity, medical issues and drugs are top disqualifiers.

The Department of Defense is the largest employer in the world and is responsible for the protection of our nation and its people. This requires a qualified, well-trained workforce. We are an all-volunteer Army.

The military is the most trusted organization in the country. The Army is about people. The Army is committed to hiring the right people with the right talent, so we can develop and train them for the right job. We will compete for the right people.

A career in the Army offers benefits and perks that often match or surpass those offered by civilian employers. That is no easy task, however, even though the majority of Americans have the highest levels of confidence in the U.S. military. We face many challenges when searching for the right people to fill our ranks. Yes, we need infantrymen and Special Forces Soldiers, like you see in the movies, but we also need logisticians, nurses, engineers, truck drivers, and IT specialists. The Department of Defense is the largest giver of college scholarships in the entire country also.

I see amazing young people in Downey and Los Angeles County desiring to serve their communities, and I believe we are doing them a disservice if we are not encouraging them to explore the military as a potential career path. The Army invests in its people, often to the benefit of outside organizations. Veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer, and be involved in their communities. They have the maturity and self-discipline private industries are seeking.

But we need your help. In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 and the Army’s 244th birthday on June 14, the Army is activating a nationwide “Call to Service.” I challenge leaders, parents, educators and our community as a whole to step forward. Inspire the young people around you to be part of something bigger, to be part of history. Inspire them to seek the opportunities available to them.

Inspire them to answer the call.

Mario A. Guerra is the former mayor of Downey and current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. He was just recently re-appointed as CASA which carriers a protocol of a 3 Star General.