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Brithany Cervantes, Marina Carvajal join military

Abby Boell

November 22, 2019

In the senior class, two students have already enlisted in the military. Brithany Cervantes signed with the Marines, and Marina Carvajal with the Army National Guard.

Qualifications to be in the Marines include being a U.S. citizen or a resident alien; meeting the exact physical, mental, and moral standards; and being between 17 and 29. If people wish to sign when they are 17, they must have parental consent. Another qualification is to have a high school diploma and to take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

                Qualifications to be in the Army National Guard include being between 17 and 35, being an U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, and meeting the medical, physical and moral requirements. To be in the Army National Guard, they must also either be a junior in high school or have a high school diploma. They must also have a minimum score on the ASVAB test.

                After meeting these requirements, individuals need to contact a recruiter to go to a nearby Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to officially enlist in their desired branch.

After enlisting, the applicants undergo a series of tests, and once they pass, they take the Oath of Enlistment in which they vow to defend the United States’ Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The final step is shipping out to basic training. The people who just enlisted in the military are either shipped a couple days after MEPS or entered in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) which means they will go to basic training later that year.

Brithany wanted to join the Marines because of benefits including free college and travel opportunities. She will travel to South Carolina for basic training.

Another reason she enlisted was because she wanted to give back to her parents. Brithany said “I feel like I need to give back because if I lived down in Mexico my parents said that our life would not be the same at all, so I feel that I need to give back and say thanks.”

She also sees the Marines as a challenge.

Brithany made her decision on which branch she was going into after talking to an Army recruiter the second time. The recruiter said that it was really easy to move up in ranks. With the Marines, however, a recruiter told her that it was a lot harder and that “you have to work for what you get.” She chose the Marines.

She decided to fill out an application online, and she was soon contacted by Sergeant Brown from Omaha. He met her at Subway to answer “a whole book of questions” to see if she was qualified.

Brithany was sworn in which was emotional.  She had both of her siblings, Jesus and Diana, and close friend Jose Silverio. She said that her parents were not allowed to watch her swearing in, and they will not be able to attend her graduation from basic training because they are not from the United States.

Originally Brithany thought she was just going to serve for four years, but now she’s thinking that she is going to serve from 15-20 years because she wants to move up the chain of command. While serving in the Marines, she also plans to go in active duty because it offers more benefits and more travel opportunities.

 Brithany  envisions a combat support career, so she can work with airplanes, bombs, and tanks. Someday, she hopes to get her pilot’s license.

Brithany’s mom, Mayra, thought Brithany was out of her mind when she said she wanted to join the Marines. Her mom did not want her to sign the papers. But even with this first reaction, her parents do support her decision.

Her parents are frustrated that Brithany will be away from home for a long time, but recognize the rewards she will gain. Her parents believe that Brithany has a lot of pride in being a Marine and that she will do great.

The process for Brithany to enlist took only a month

Gomez has already been preparing her for basic training through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). In this program, Brithany has workouts and group building activities on Thursdays and Sunday mornings, and while there, Gomez talks about his experiences at basic as well. Through this program, Gomez wants to promote teamwork, and he does not want any of his recruits to go to basic prepared.

Males who live west of the Mississippi River go to basic in San Diego, California, and males who live east of the Mississippi River and all females go to basic in Parris Island, South Carolina.

Marina’s interest in joining the military sparked after her brother started taking a ROTC class for the marines. She chose the Army National Guard because she wanted to be in a branch that did not take her away from her family as much.

Because she was still seventeen, she needed parents’ permission.  

Marina said that MEPS was a boring experience for her, but she was interested in how everyone in any branch go to the same building to officially enlist. Marina’s contract is currently 8 years, but she believes that after the eight years, she will still continue to be a part of the military. She also believes that someday she will go into active duty as well.

Marina describes her experience at basic as fun, intense and scary at first, but overall she found it a fun experience. She did have days where it was hard to keep going, but she constantly pushed herself to get through basic.

She said that because she went to basic, she felt more mature about her senior year compared to her classmates who just had fun all summer, and for Marina, basic training was an amazing opportunity to meet new people and to get out of her comfort zone. 

The most challenging experience during basic was the Forge, which is a 4-day trip ruck sack trip. Marina said that it seemed unorganized, and she did not know what was going on. She had to carry a heavy ruck sack, barely had anytime to eat, and only got about two hours of sleep each night.

At her graduation ceremony, all the graduates walked out of a forest with smoke behind them, and after she saw all the people who came to the ceremony, she cried.

Another reason she cried was because her family was not able to attend her graduation. Because her family was not there, she had to stand at attention and wait to be dismissed unlike her fellow graduates who were allowed to break rank and join their families.

To prepare herself before basic training, Marina started going on daily runs, started eating healthier, and started preparing herself mentally for the challenges she would be encountering.

Marina’s job in the Army National Guard is a 91 Bravo which is a regular wheel mechanic. She picked this job because originally, she wanted to fix helicopters, but because she does not have 20/20 vision, she cannot do that. She also wanted to be a mechanic because she did not want a desk job.

Marina’s parents, Elena Navarrete and Andres Carvajal, were shocked to hear that Marina wanted to join the Army National Guard. They thought at the time it was just a phase, and that after a couple of days it would go away.

At first, Elena and Andres did not support her decision because they didn’t believe she was serious. After realizing she was, they supported her because it was something Marina wanted to do.

Marina is the first person in her family to join the military.

Elena and Andres do not like the idea of Marina being gone for days at a time. They are worried knowing that she is on her own. They realize that she is old enough to be out by herself, but in their eyes she will always be their little girl.

Since Marina enlisted in the Army National Guard, her parents said that she has gained confidence and that she has grown as a person.

Elena and Andres have met Marina’s recruiter: Sergeant Keith Jorgensen.

Jorgensen said that now Marina is in the Army National Guard, she can no longer get tattoos on her face, hands or neck, and they are not allowed to gauge their ears. He also said that just like rest of us civilians, soldiers cannot break laws. Soldiers are not allowed to be members of hate or extremist organizations.

                Jorgensen said that the process to enlist can take as few as 7-10 days, but to enlist they have to go through the steps: fill out an application packet and a medical history report, pass the ASVAB with a score of a 31 or higher, pass the medical examination, choose their job and basic training date complete a pre-enlistment interview, and be sworn in at the ceremony at MEPS.

                Jorgensen helped Marina prepare for her basic training by putting her through the Recruit Sustainment Program which is unique thing to the Nebraska Army National Guard. In this program, the soon to be soldiers are taught military rank structure, customs and courtesies, marching, physical fitness to prepare them for basic training.

                They go to this program one weekend a month before they go to basic training.

Jorgensen says that basic training is a challenge and the hardest part is being away from home. He also says that after the first two weeks of basic, it gets a lot better because they are in a routine and have met other soldiers in their platoon.

Marina and her recruiter do not stay in touch all the time, but Jorgensen has told her that she can always contact him if she has any questions or concerns.

For Brithany and Marina, joining the military is no longer a dream-it’s a reality, and both are looking forward to what they can accomplish as a result.

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