‘No easy process’

Senior enlists in the U.S. National Guard to pursue a military future


contributed by Hailey Bowman

Taking the major step towards senior Hailey Bowman’s future may be considered one of the roughest days of her life. A grueling 12 hour long process spent at the Military Entrance Processing Station with no possession of phones for hopeful enlisters.

“Once you sign those contracts, you are basically owned by the government,” Bowman said.

College was the main reason why Bowman decided to enlist in the National Guard after graduation. The military provides college at little-to-no-cost while the veteran is on active duty.

Enlisting in the U.S. Army National Guard was no easy process for her. Even though there was no physical training involved yet, it was still mentally and physically draining for her with countless contracts as well as physical examinations.

contributed by Hailey Bowman

To some enlisters, including Bowman, signing those contracts is essentially handing yourself over to the government for a specific amount of years which may vary from soldier to soldier. There are strict rules and regulations in the handbook that enlisters have to follow. Body modifications once you enlist, are generally not allowed. This includes hair dye, tattoos or body piercings, except for a single lobe one on each ear that the uniform cannot cover.

“Anything you wanted to change about yourself, you can’t,” Bowman said. “If you do, it has to follow the standards.”

Bowman will be going to Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. on June 14 of next year to begin basic training. The fort is the U.S. Army’s main production center for basic combat training. Once she completes it, she will then be considered an Army Veteran.

In the enlistment process, there were no push-ups done, but according to Bowman, the process was “a lot worse.” To start, enlisters were supposed to strip down to their undergarments and be taken to an examination room.

“This is where he asked me questions about any medical issues,” Bowman said.

From there, they were asked a series of health-related questions, similar to when one might get a health physical done during a sports season, that included walking like a duck, height and weight measurements and a vision exam.

But before she decided to enlist in the National Guard, Bowman joined the SHS Armed Forces Cadets her junior year.

Senior Nova Noel who is captain of the SAFC has supported Bowman and been there as a friend. They haven’t supported Bowman with resources but have been the shoulder to lean on when Bowman needs it most. Noel believes that Bowman enlisting in the army is the right fit for her.

“She’s very well-mannered. She always listens,” Noel said. “She’s always quick with answers about military history, but she’s always very determined to learn more.”

Art Department Chairman Captain Bruce Thompson, who also runs SHS’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program, has provided Bowman with the resources needed to enlist.

“Chaplain Brown, the guy that helps me, … we both talked with her on it. She made the decision,” Thompson said. “It’s nothing that we set up. We just supplied her with information.”

Bowman took that information and signed a contract to serve for six years. Not sure if she will want to continue serving after the obligated time frame, she’s leaving it up to the end to decide.

However, it is possible that Bowman might sign a two year contract after. There is no basic training required for two years.

“It was pretty awesome,” Bowman said. “Knowing I’m in the National Guard now.”

After all of the MEPS training was finished, a ceremony was held for the enlisters inside a bigger room at the facility. The walls were adorned with the emblems from each branch of the military. A podium with flags behind it was where a sergeant or captain would stand.

“As soon as they would walk into the room, you had to get into attention,” Bowman said. “You couldn’t look back.”