Life after war
After more than a decade of deployments to the Middle East, soldiers are learning to adapt to life away from the war zone. The Steamboat Pilot & Today spotlights some of Routt County's veterans and the difficulties they face in the transition to civilian life.
Steamboat Springs A military recruiter recently asked Virginia Jones whether she was afraid of death.
“No,” the Hayden High School junior replied. She said she was more afraid to not be remembered for doing something good for her country.
“I want my family to look at me and see that I accomplished things, and I don’t want to be afraid,” Jones said from her high school counselor’s office. A bookshelf behind her was full of brochures for all branches of the military.
As she weighs whether to enlist in the Army or Navy next year, the 17-year-old said she would like to serve and fight for her 2-year-old brother.
But she also has reservations about the time she would have to spend away from her family.
“I think it could give me good experience in life,” she said.
There are five seniors in Routt County who have enlisted in the military this school year, and they represent a very small percentage of their graduating classes.
Most were inspired to join by the testimonials of family members who served.
“My uncle tells me it was the greatest time of his life. He loved it,” Hayden junior Josh St. Clair said.
These students also rigorously keep up their grades knowing careers in the military are not only dependent on physical ability, but also academic achievement. In addition to physical tests, they are required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB test, that is administered by the military.
The nine-section test quizzes students on subjects ranging from mathematics to electronics and helps determine the branch to which they can be accepted.
“They interrogate you almost to make sure you’re not going to burst under pressure,” Steamboat Springs High School senior Alex Alfone said about the Marine Corps recruiters he recently worked with.
He and classmate Mac Knoel have enlisted in the Marines and soon will travel to Camp Pendleton for basic training.
The seniors said the opportunity to travel and serve their country was the driving factor for their enlistment.
“I didn’t want to spend the next four years in a classroom. I wanted to be out in the world,” Alfone said. “I want to serve my country and give back.”
Steamboat Springs High School college and career counselor Danica Moss said there are some years when no seniors from Steamboat enlist. Other years typically yield two to three enlistees.
“Some kids need it,” she said about military service. “And I’m relieved when some kids join because they need the structure. But with these three I have this year, I was more proud than relieved. All of them are solid athletes and solid students.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com