By LT Laura Garofalo, USCG, Sea Cadet Youth Program Liaison
Is a Military Career the Best Fit for You?
If you’re considering applying to a military service after high school, the decision can be both exciting and overwhelming. Perhaps throughout your Sea Cadet career, you wanted to become an officer because you have a strong desire to lead people. Perhaps you were able to attend a training that inspired an enlisted job in a particular branch. Whatever the case, it is important that you take time to explore your options.
Don’t just sign a contract because a relentless recruiter promised you a bonus or an exciting career path. Don’t assume that the only way to become an officer is through a service academy.
Don’t choose a branch because it’s your family’s legacy. Every branch of service offers unique opportunities; it is important that you make the decision that’s right for your future. While many people in your life may be influential in making this decision, it has to be yours and yours alone. Your parents cannot attend boot camp with you; your grandfather will not be studying for your exams while you go to an athletic practice at a service academy. You will have their love and support, but you will be on your own, doing it for YOUR future.
Where Should I Begin?
As a Sea Cadet, you have been afforded unique access to a plethora of specialized training opportunities across the nation. Use these training opportunities as an exploration of what interests you. Choose trainings that align with your interests and goals for the future, and utilize these training opportunities to explore the types of jobs in the service(s) you find most appealing. For example, if a fast-paced, high intensity environment interests you, perhaps you would prefer to attend Army or Marine Corps Field Ops or Coast Guard Maritime Interdiction.
Maybe a military medical career aligns better with your goals; search for training opportunities that focus on the various branches’ enlisted and officer medical jobs or that provide interaction with medical officers and corpsman. Talk to service members every chance you get; ask them about their career paths, why they chose them, and what their future plans entail. Ask them about their work-life balance; how does having a family fit into their military career? Have they had to deploy and if so, how often? Ask permission from your Sea Cadet command first, but then reach out to recruiting offices of all branches and invite them to attend a drill. Most recruiting offices should see this as a valuable resource, as it enables them to learn about the Sea Cadet program as well as reciprocate their own service’s information.
Now for the Coast Guard Segment…
As a Coast Guard Officer, who also happens to work for Coast Guard Recruiting Command, I am somewhat biased…okay, highly biased,…in my opinion of which branch is best. That said, I firmly believe that decisions on which branch, job, career path, or even if the military is a good fit for applicants must be their choice. For some, the Coast Guard is a great fit. For others, their passion may lie with another branch. And for the majority, military service may not be the right choice for them. That’s okay. Just ensure that you don’t discount any options before making your decision.
As your personal Sea Cadet Liaison, in the coming weeks, I will be providing insight into Coast Guard information to the Sea Cadet network regarding Coast Guard history, facts, jobs, recruiting insight, bonuses, and officer programs. I welcome you to contact me anytime to learn more about the Coast Guard as well. As a prior enlisted member, a Reservist on Active Duty, and a commissioned Officer, I can offer a great deal of experience for those considering the Coast Guard. And what I cannot offer, I will find someone for you who can.
Whether you’re a middle school student, a high school senior, or an adult serving in the program as a volunteer, if you have questions or would like to learn more, stay tuned to Semper Paratus Saturday for more Coast Guard information and/or feel free to reach out to me.
LT Laura Garofalo, USCG
Sea Cadet Youth Program Liaison
CG Recruiting Command