A recruiting center for islanders who want to serve in the U.S. Army officially opened yesterday along Beach Road in Oleai, Saipan—an occasion described by a ranking Army official as a symbol of the U.S. Army’s commitment to serve the people of the Northern Marianas.
Speaking to a large crowd of students, lawmakers, and community members, Lt. Col. Thomas A. Crawson, Portland Recruiting Battalion commander, said: “This is a great day for U.S. in the Commonwealth. Today, we’re reinforcing our commitment to serve U.S. armed forces and serve the NMI people. You, as an island nation, makes us strong in the Army.”
The Army recruitment center is adjacent to the U.S. Marine Corps Career Center on the first floor on the Ladera Plaza.
Crawson, who has served in a variety of command and staff positions throughout the U.S. and Germany, said that Commonwealth soldiers are known throughout the Army family as hardworking, mission-focused, and best of the best.
He pointed out that CNMI service-members do well and go through the toughest selection process, compared to the U.S. mainland where only one of every four high school students qualify to serve the Army.
“Our job really is to support people to the right direction. The army values, I can say, are the hallmark of the very young men and women coming from this island,” he added.
He recognized yesterday 15 individuals who have already expressed their interest to join the Army after graduating from high school this school year. Among them is Kaelany Camacho, a senior at Kagman High School, who described his chosen career as a “dream come true.”
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, who was the event’s guest speaker, said the U.S. Army recruiting center is a symbol that the CNMI youth can strive to be someone and to be somewhere, in a chosen career of great importance.
“The U.S. Army recruiting center is a centerpiece of the future of young men and women—the lifeline for advancement—into career fields in various professions such as engineer, teacher, law enforcement, heavy equipment and auto mechanics, computer technicians, nurses, business, and perhaps a future commissioner of education,” she said.
“In the past few years, I have seen many of our local military families return to the CNMI and have worked in the private and public sectors. The expertise that they brought back range from being an instructor with the JROTC to holding key positions in government such as the legislative and the central government,” she added.
A large percentage of students graduating from PSS choose to go into the armed forces. In school year 2008, 20 percent of graduates went into the military; the figure rose to 30 percent in school year 2010.
At Tinian High School alone, Sablan disclosed that 5 of 50 seniors have already expressed interest to enter the armed forces after graduation: two in the Army and three in the air force.
In recent past, several students have taken advantage of the Senior Officers Training Corp at the University of Guam.
With the help of federal dollars, Sablan said that PSS is also making progress in its Troops-to-Teachers program, which remains a conduit for the island’s reservists or military personnel who return back to the CNMI to work for the school system.
Saipan Tribune learned that since the program’s inception in 2003, PSS has recruited 40 troops to teachers each year. At the end of this school year, at least four troopers will receive their education degrees, she said.