Military recruiters are the first to tell you the motivation for signing up varies for each recruit, but recruiters are looking for certain qualities in those candidates.
For Lt. Col. Robert S. Patton Jr., the commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion of the Dallas and West Texas area, a life of moving from place to place as an Army brat with his father did not put him off of the idea of serving personally. His own motivation for joining the Army was service to the nation.
But two offices over in the recruiting offices at 5604 Slide Road, Sgt. Jacob Andre said he wanted a challenge and to prove his own self-reliance when he enlisted in the Marines.
“I needed to earn something, challenge myself,” said Andre, a Marine recruiter.
Once he became a Marine, Andre said he knew there was nothing in the world he couldn’t accomplish if he put his mind to it.
Patton said, “We’re looking for those folks that want to serve the nation. There are different motivations as to why, whether it’s service to the nation, whether it’s adventure, education benefits, leadership experience. There are a lot of motivations that bring folks through our doors.”
What is the military seeking?
Outstanding citizenship, interest in community service and motivation to either lead or serve the nation are some of the top traits that military recruiters are seeking.
“We are looking for kids who are smart,” Andre said. “We’re looking for people who are in shape, who are healthy, but who are also motivated to help others.”
Andre said he and other recruiters aren’t necessarily recruiting athletes, although they can make great soldiers. But he’s really looking for people who like to help others.
For both the Army and the Marines, recruits must have a minimum score of 31 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB.
But the minimum is not what recruits should aim for.
“Really, we want a score in the 50-range,” Patton said.
He said the Army is interested in recruits ages 17-34, both male and female. Candidates should be “morally fit,” he said, meaning free from arrests, trouble with the law or alcohol or drug issues.
And both the Army and Marines want candidates who are either high school students, high school graduates or college students, they said.
Recruiters are interested in older candidates, such as those who have already completed college, Andre said, noting some college students attend weekly workouts with Marine recruiters in expectation of entering the military after graduation.
How can you get involved?
Patton said young people now are very educated and tech-savvy.
“Do your research online. Go in goarmy.com,” he said. “Talk to your recruiters. My recruiters are in the schools weekly. Talk to one of them.”
Both Army and Marines recruiters offer workouts to help get recruits in great shape before they leave for boot camp.
Andre said at the Marine workouts, they do pull-ups for males and flex arm-hangs for females. Running, circuit training and even sports activities like football are part of the workout.
“We’ve got to prepare them mentally and physically for the rigorous training of boot camp,” Andre said. He said anyone age 16 and up is welcome to come, but those younger than 18 need a parent permission slip.
These workouts help prepare recruits for the minimum requirements of entry to the Marines, including five pull-ups, 50 crunches in two minutes and a 1.5-mile run in 13 minutes or less for males. For females, Andre said the requirements are 27 seconds of a flex arm-hang, 50 crunches in two minutes and a 1.5-mile run in 15 minutes or less.
“Those are the bare minimum requirements. But we don’t look for the bare minimum. We look for people to excel,” Andre said. “Our workouts, we’re very dedicated to our kids, because we want them to excel.”
Path to military is similar to other job paths
Whether young people want to join the military, become a police officer or pursue a career as a scientist, Patton said he has the same advice so they will be fully qualified for life.
He advises that young people avoid trouble and the wrong crowd, as well as drugs and alcohol. He said they should also stay fit, stay in school and study.
“Regardless if you want to join the military, those are things to succeed in life,” Patton said.