DOWNEY — A few weeks ago, the United States Army and several other branches of our military hosted the Second Annual Downey Career Military Day at Calvary Chapel High School.
Downey Unified School District and the city of Downey participated along with several other local schools to let high school students learn about the opportunities available to them in the military.
Other branches that participated were the Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Navy, Coast Guard and the Army Reserves.
Calvary Chapel School hosted the event which included over 250 students from Calvary, Warren and Downey High. Students had signed up to hear information about potential educational scholarships and career opportunities. Students were provided materials and encouraged to ask questions and to learn about their interests.
The Career Military Day collaboration was started last year by a meeting hosted to bring our community together. Trustees Martha Sodetani and Donald LaPlante represented DUSD and Mayor Rick Rodriguez along with Councilmember Alex Saab represented Downey. The event was initiated by former mayor and current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Mario A. Guerra.
General Milley, Army Chief of Staff, is known for saying that “while the military may not be for everyone, the chance to explore the opportunities is something each student should have available to them”. Students heard directly from each branch and also from guest speakers talking about leadership and where they were in their lives based on where they started.
Rodriguez gave a talk along with Dr. John Garcia while Guerra was the emcee. Staff Sergeant Ricky Padron and retired Drill Sergeant Rick Rodriguez Jr spoke about their careers in the military and the benefits they receive today from those experiences.
Saab alongside DUSD Board Trustees Giggy Saab and Sodetani were also in attendance and participated in talking with our students along with Assistant Superintendent Roger Brossmer.
Some interesting facts: most people do not know that the U.S. Army is the largest provider of scholarships in the country and the second largest employer in the world. There are over 150 career choices and 99% of jobs have a civilian application. Almost 7000 soldiers received degrees last year while serving. As CASA, Guerra gives four different multiyear scholarships known as the Minuteman Scholarships and encourages local students to inquire about their availability.
There are several benefits to both the individual and to the nation by serving, Guerra said. Soldiers become better citizens and impact the world around them. Soldiers develop the maturity and self-discipline private industries seek. Soldiers are highly trained professionals and hold certifications that qualify them for private-sector jobs. They get leadership training with every promotion with increased responsibility. Veterans are more likely to vote, to volunteer, and be involved in their communities.
There are many challenges today for keeping our all-volunteer military. 50% of our youth admit they know little to nothing about military service. 71% of youth do not qualify for military service (obesity, drugs, health problems, misconduct, aptitude) . Only 1% of the population currently serves; and veteran population is declining.
“So it is vital to help our youth make informed decision and learn about their future opportunities,” Guerra said. “Thank you to Downey and for the Los Angeles Army Battalion for making this day possible.”