The military values education, whether it be in military topics or in college courses, the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard told more than 100 children from Washington public charter schools visiting the Pentagon to learn about the U.S. military from people who serve.
The best way to succeed in the military or in life is to "always exercise your mind," Army Maj. Gen. William J. Walker said during the event today, noting that after high school, kids sometimes are faced with a tough choice of what to do.
Choices include going to college or joining the military, he said, adding that joining the military is an excellent path to college. Service members get paid job training, and the military also provides funding for college or for learning a trade, he said.
Walker said the military paid for him to get three master's degrees and is providing funding for the doctoral program in which he's enrolled.
One of the benefits of joining the National Guard or reserves, the general said, is the opportunity to hold both a military job and a civilian job. Walker said he's a retired Drug Enforcement Agency criminal investigator.
Lisa W. Hershman, the Defense Department's acting chief management officer, told the students that civilians can serve the military. She said the two subjects that excited her the most were math and science, which led her to her chosen profession as an engineer. She started her career with General Electric, where she worked as a military contractor on the Seawolf submarine program, she said, and now she's a Defense Department civilian working to streamline military business practices and save taxpayer dollars in the process.
"It's all about supporting the warfighter," she added, noting that many people throughout the military serve as civilians or contractors.
Army Lt. Col. Carol Hickey said her job is military intelligence. The job has many facets, she told the students, but they're all basically about getting information about adversaries who want to harm America.
"People don't care if you're male or female. They are mainly concerned that you can do what needs to be done," she said, adding that it's the Army's job to ensure it matches the right people with the right jobs so that everyone is successful in defending America.
Isayris Duerra Alongo, a fifth-grader, said she was particularly impressed with Hickey's presentation, because she learned that the military values women, and women can succeed and thrive at what they do. Regarding her first-time Pentagon visit, she said she was particularly fond of the working canines used by the Pentagon police because she loves all kinds of dogs.
Julian Andrade, also a fifth-grader, said he was honored to meet the general and other speakers. What impressed him most, he said, is that some of the speakers "talked about how the military is like family and they look out for you and care about you."
Kim Joiner, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for strategic engagement, said that less than 1% of Americans are willing or able to serve today, so, many do not know a lot about the military.
For example, she said, a lot of people don't know that the military offers some 800 jobs, and chances are that multiple jobs would interest any person.
To learn more about the military, she encouraged people to visit Defense.gov/KnowYourMilitary/.