School counselors need to educate themselves on military opportunities and their responsibilities relating to House Bill 17-1041

The Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 17-1051, CONCERNING MEASURES TO INFORM STUDENTS OF EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES LEADING TO JOBS, during its last legislative session.

This bill requires, among several other things, that public schools explain to parents and students the educational opportunities available through military service:

22-32-109. Board of education – specific duties. (1) In addition to any other duty required to be performed by law, each board of education shall have and perform the following specific duties:

(oo) (III) At a minimum, each public school shall ensure that, in developing and maintaining each student’s ICAP, the counselor or teacher explains to the student’s parent or legal guardian, by electronic mail or other written form, and to the student:

(A) …

(B) …

AND

(C) THE SKILLS AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE THROUGH MILITARY ENLISTMENT. IN DISCUSSING MILITARY ENLISTMENT WITH A STUDENT AND HIS OR HER PARENT, EACH PUBLIC SCHOOL IS ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE TO THE STUDENT INFORMATION CONCERNING THE MILITARY ENLISTMENT TEST.

As an Army veteran with over 14 years of active duty service and another 14 years in the Reserves I would agree that the military can provide numerous opportunities. The best thing is that the military doesn’t expect any experience and provides the necessary job training. In addition, not only are many technical skills transferable to civilian jobs, but the military also teaches soft skills that many people never learn.

It’s true that the military is not for everyone. But it’s also true that the military could be a great option for many people who don’t know about the opportunities military service can provide. This is what I think is the purpose of the bill – ensuring information gets to the people who need it. The big problem though is that the counselors responsible for implementing this bill may not know the opportunities themselves.

For example, a generation ago, it would have been rare for some member of a family to have not served in WWII, the Korean War or in the Vietnam conflict. Currently though, there are only approximately 22 million living veterans in the US out of a population of 320 million, less than 7% of the total population.

For this reason, counselors themselves need to take the time to learn and understand what opportunities military service can provide. The Army isn’t just about the Infantry, just like the Air Force isn’t just about pilots. There are numerous support skills needed to keep each of the services functioning, skills that are directly transferrable to the civilian sector or even staying in the service and making it a career.

For example, in addition to Infantry, Armor and Artillery positions, here are some of the other Advanced Individual Training schools available in the Army that may not come immediately to mind:

  • Adjutant General School – Learn the skills needed to become a human resource specialist
  • Aviation Logistics School – Learn how to maintain Army helicopters
  • Department of Defense Fire Academy – Learn fire protection and emergency medical care
  • Engineer School – Learn skills such as building bridges and roads
  • Financial Management School – Learn how to provide finance and accounting support
  • Military Police School – Learn law-enforcement skills
  • Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School – Maintain Army equipment
  • Quartermaster School – Supply Soldiers with food, water, petroleum, repair parts and ammunition
  • Signal Corps School – Learn communications technology
  • Transportation School – Learn how to operate and maintain trucks, material-handling equipment and watercraft.

In addition, the military teaches invaluable soft skills such as:

  • Leadership
  • Strong work ethic
  • Organization
  • Management
  • Communication

As for my own time in the Army, I never expected to stay in past my initial commitment. However, 14 years went by pretty quickly as I was presented with new opportunities for interesting assignments and additional schooling. Plus, I had the sense of service in doing something I felt was important. I’m glad I served.

Counselors need to do their jobs and not just “check the box” to comply with this law. They need to educate themselves on the military opportunities available and then pass that information on to HS students. The service is a great way to jump start a career or get money for college. And, don’t forget that the military academies and ROTC are also ways to pay for college.

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