Recruiting Merchant Marines

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KINGS POINT, N.Y. - Several senior leaders from the Army Reserve offered career information and opportunities to hundreds of midshipmen at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

Maj. Gen. William D. Razz Waff, commanding general, 99th Regional Support Command, was among the Soldiers who traveled to the academy March 24, 201 1 , to inform the midshipmen of the benefits of serving as commissioned officers or warrant officers in the Army Reserve upon graduation.

"This is a great opportunity for the Army to reach out to the midshipmen who are looking at what their career opportunities are for both active duty and Army Reserve," Waff said.

"We're just excited to be partnered with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to try to glean off some of these great graduates to help the Army succeed in its mission," added Chief Warrant Officer Five Jim Thompson, command chief warrant officer, Army Reserve and U.S. Army Reserve Command.

Academy graduates are not only qualified for civilian careers on ships, but they also have to fulfill an eight-year commitment to the military, according to Capt. Luis Burgos, Army Reserve liaison at the USMMA.

"They are required to satisfy a Department of Defense service obligation, which can be met by serving in an active or reserve status for any branch of the military, U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Merchant Marine Reserve," explained Burgos, whose job it is to facilitate graduates' transition into the Army Reserve.

Serving this eight-year military tour in the Army Reserve offers USMMA graduates the unique opportunity to fulfill their service obligation while still being able to hold full-time civilian jobs, and also allows them to take the mariner skills they learned at the academy and put them to use in the military.

"A lot of times, when you become a commissioned officer- whether you're flying an aircraft or you're a boat pilot- you reach a certain rank and you don't do that any longer," explained Col. Gary Bullard, commander, Army Reserve Careers Division. "If these guys elect to become warrant officers, they can pilot a boat for the rest of their careers if they choose to do so. …