Careers in the Military

By Boyd, Charles E. | Diversity Employers, February 1998 | Go to article overview
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Careers in the Military


Boyd, Charles E., Diversity Employers


MILITARY SERVICE: A CHOICE, A CHANCE ...

How advanced we have become while traveling down the Information Super Highway with Pentium II microchips; conducting spacewalks outside the space shuttle Columbia in outer space, and journeying to the deepest depths of the Atlantic Ocean in search of the Titanic. We have leaped forward from mechanics to robotics and typewriters to computers. With all this knowledge at our fingertips, can someone answer the basic question, "Is military service a choice for a chance to succeed or a chance to choose one's path to success?" Do they differ?

For many years, African Americans have thought of military service as a path to attaining responsible positions, acquiring equality among their peers and providing a realistic opportunity to climb the promotional ladder through productive performance. Joining to serve and to acquire those much needed GI Bill funds to pay for a college education was for many an easy choice. It was possibly the answer to their prayers for financial security for their families or simply a method to grasp their personal vision of making a difference in America by serving first in the military then seeking their destiny back home. People such as Ron Dellums (elected to Congress in 1970) and David Dinkins (former mayor of New York City) come to mind.

Today, military service is a highly sought after profession because it leads to somewhere, "in or out" of the military. It's a profession that provides competitive salaries, training and education and benefits that overshadow many thought-to-be "lucrative" corporate packages. Those of you who doubt should contact a corporate recruiter at the next campus career fair and tell him that you want a position with a starting annual salary of between $23,500 and $25,500; four weeks paid vacation and full medical and dental benefits paid by the company. In addition, you also want to defer your student loans for six months following graduation and for the company to provide you with as much as 75 percent tuition reimbursement for the graduate courses you will be taking once you start working. Today's military entry-level officer positions offer these and more, regardless of which branch you join.

During the nineties, minorities must come to grips with the reality, that skin color can neither "legally" keep them out of jobs nor "legally" get them into jobs. This reality is true for the military also. To keep pace with corporations and industry in hiring qualified minorities, the military encourages high school students to attend Service Academies such as West Point, the Navy Academy, the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy. Also, each Service repeatedly launches recruitment programs to attract minority college students and graduates (particularly from HBCUs) to become commissioned officers. The Department of Defense's latest report to Congress in September, 1997 reflects increases in minority enrollments in the academies and in officer ranks in the military. The Marine Corps has become one of the branches most successful in its efforts to recruit, train, promote and retain females, African Americans and Hispanics as officers, as the following graph shows.

(3 YEAR COMPARISONS OF MARINE CORPS. COMMISSIONING OF
MINORITY OFFICERS)

            African Americans    Hispanics    Females

1991                60               54          51
1992                77               53          33
1993                73               50          66

1995               110               93          80
1996               115               80         105
1997               124               89         106

Some of those who joined offer you their reasons why. "Following graduation from Howard University, I wanted a job that would provide me with an immediate opportunity to learn, earn and manage people," stated Second Lieutenant Daniel B.

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