Graduate recruits envision personal and professional rewards
"I believe that the reason Moffat County High School students join is a strong of patriotism.
They are usually raised to be hard workers and good old boys, so the military seems like a good fit for these individuals," says Northwest Colorado Marine recruiter Sergeant Brian Scoggins.
For years, enlistment in the armed forces has been a strong trend amongst teens from Craig.
Every year, Scoggins recruits about ten young students from Colorado's western slope into the United States Marine Corps, at least four of them coming from Moffat County High School.
With at least six students entering in the past two years and more than four more entering in 2012, the trend is still running strong, and not just for the material benefits.
"It was the mental and physical challenge really, just knowing I'm doing something that not many people have done before... It wasn't a difficult decision, this was something I was just born to do," says Senior Pat Thompson about his decision to join the Marines.
Considering enrollment since his sophomore year, Thompson is more than confident that this is what his true calling is. Along with Thompson, senior Zach Hansen will be joining as well.
"They're the best of the best. It's not for the benefits; it's all out of my heart. I just want to be part of the best," he says.
Next fall, both students will be shipped out to San Diego, California for a twelve-week boot camp.
Schooling and financial help come with enlistment, but the personal benefits tend to be much more rewarding for students. Thompson explains that for him the decision had nothing to do with education or money.
"In a way, the Marines have the worst benefits of all the branches, but the best when it comes to bettering yourself."
Sgt. Scoggins says, "Direction and discipline would be the best benefits. The military gives a wide range of things to experience, depending on what job they want."
Hansen said that it was never a difficult decision, thanks to his mother.
She gave him the most support of anyone because she never doubted him or questioned his decision.
Senior Chris Middelstadt, who is planning on joining the Navy after graduation, says that it was more of a self-supported decision.
He came to find that not everyone was immediately supportive of his choice, but in the end was well-respected for it.
For any student considering enlistment Middelstadt advises, "Do research. Look at fields that interest you and do this for all branches. Most branches are equal, but some have better programs and careers for certain things."
Scoggins says, "The best way to join is to have a good understanding about all the options you have in the military before making a decision. Every branch is unique like a fraternity. Explore all [the branches] and make your decision based on where you best fit in."