New Documentary Showcases Unique Military Career Opportunities
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2006 A new documentary launched today will help to educate the American public about military service and clear up misconceptions, the Defense Department's top personnel official said.
David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said the one-hour film, "Today's Military: Extraordinary People; Extraordinary Opportunities," takes viewers around the country and overseas. The documentary features 11 active- and reserve-component servicemembers who share experiences that shed light on opportunities available in the military.
"This film offers a glimpse into the lives of 11 extraordinary men and women who have achieved extraordinary success," Chu told a Pentagon audience at the film's first screening, Jan 26.
The servicemembers featured, who represent all branches of the service, including the Coast Guard, showcase jobs many people don't associate with military service. The participants include a journalist, a motion picture liaison, a musician, an animal-care specialist and a language instructor.
Other participants help show the excitement of some military careers, including that of a combat helicopter pilot, a coxswain, a joint terminal attack controller and instructors who teach aviation pararescue and surfman skills.
Through their personal stories, the featured servicemembers share their satisfaction with military life and the doors it has opened in their careers.
"I just can't picture myself doing anything else," said Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Andrew Canfield, a pararescue instructor for the Oregon Air National Guard, who describes the adrenaline rush of his job and the gratification of saving lives.
Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen Giove, a placement director and conductor for the Marine Corps Music Program at Parris Island, S.C., explained that the music makes listeners stand a little taller and take pride in what they do. "It brings out the best in people," he said.
Army Cpl. Mary Simms, a broadcast journalist deployed to Afghanistan, said her job gives her the opportunity "to really get our there and work with people" and to experience firsthand the military's vast operations around the world.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Frank Lofton, a joint terminal attack controller at Fort Irwin, Calif., told of the fulfillment of helping save the lives of Army Special Forces troops during an ambush in Afghanistan that left them outnumbered three-to-one. Controllers direct the action of combat aircraft engaged in close-air support and other offensive air operations.
Joining the military was "the greatest decision I've ever made," said Navy Reserve Lt. j.g. Fernando Rivero, a Hollywood liaison for the Navy. "Being in the military grounds me and gives a sense of contributing to something bigger than myself," he said.
"I can't think of anything else I could do that would make me as happy," Army Sgt. Chet Stugus said of his job as a medical animal-care specialist for military working dogs at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. "I'm doing a job I love."
Coast Guard Reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Trish Carroll, a coxswain for the Department of Homeland Security, described the challenges she faces as one of the first female tactical law enforcement officers and the thrill she gets sharing stories about her job.
Air Force Master Sgt. John Holsonback, a Russian linguist instructor at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Calif., told about the gratification of helping provide a bridge between two cultures.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Dingle shared the excitement of teaching survival skills to air crew members and the satisfaction he gets from knowing he's helping save lives.
"I love doing what we do, and I love being around it," Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class William Armstrong said of his career as a surfman instructor.
Marine Capt. Vernice Armour, a combat AH-1 Cobra helicopter pilot, shared insights into her job of providing life support for Marines on the ground and the thrill of knowing she's "making a difference."
Besides, Armour asks in the video, "Who wants to be average?"
Matt Boehmer, program manager for the Joint Advertising, Market Research and Studies program, called the documentary a powerful way to capture the spirit of the men and women in uniform. The finished project makes a strong statement in communicating the message that "today's military is an extraordinary place to be," he said.
DoD will use the new documentary to help educate "adult influencers" - parents, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches who play an important part in young people's career decisions - about opportunities in the military, Chu said at the premier screening.
"We have discovered in the Department of Defense that most Americans have limited understanding of the military, and also misconceptions," he said. Chu expressed hope that the film will help clear them up and set the record straight. "We want them to know about the opportunities in the military," he said.
DoD is planning a broad outreach effort to reach these adult influencers. Today's Military is slated to broadcast through April in syndication in many major markets throughout the country, including San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington.
One-minute "webisodes" of the film are posted online at www.todaysmilitary.com.
Next month, DoD will mail 40,000 DVDs to guidance counselors who have requested more information for their students. In addition, a 13-minute version of the film will be shown in April during in-flight programming on domestic United Airlines flights.
The documentary is part of DoD's integrated "Get the Facts" communication plan designed to reach about 85 percent of U.S. households by April through a premiere event, online, television, airline, and educator mailings, said Air Force Maj. Rene Stockwell, marketing communications chief for the JAMRS program.
The JAMRS staff began planning the documentary in October 2004 in partnership with Northern Light Productions and Mullen Advertising.
"Our DoD market research indicated that a personally relevant emotional appeal - in this case, Today's Military - was needed to encourage adult influencers to get the facts about the military as a strong career option for recruitment-aged youth," Boehmer said.
DoD received 2,600 nominations of servicemembers to feature in the film within two weeks of seeking participants last January. The 11 servicemembers profiled were selected based on their common drive to do something exceptional with their lives, Stockwell said.