Joined to Pay for College, Stayed for Love of Career

Like a lot of young people just starting out in life, at 18, Sheldon McCoy wanted to go to college and be able to pay his bills.

SGT Sheldon McCoy

SGT Sheldon McCOY

His older brother was already serving in the Army National Guard in the McCoys’ hometown in Oklahoma. So once McCoy learned that this branch of the military would pay 100 percent of his in-state tuition, he looked no further than his local Guard recruiter for a solution that allowed him to keep up with his truck payments, enroll in college, and serve on a part-time basis close to home.

That was seven years ago. Now a Sergeant who works full-time in an administrative position with the Oklahoma Guard in the same Unit as his brother, Dustin, McCoy keeps up his part-time training in his military occupational specialty (MOS) as a 13D Field Artillery Automated Data Systems Specialist.

“We are considered the brains of the artillery,” SGT McCoy explains of his MOS.

The job is definitely a team effort.

“The gun can’t function without us and we can’t function without FOs,” he says. FO stands for forward observers, or the infantry, which is on the front lines in battle.

When the infantry calls via radio for the fire direction center to fire at a target, the 13D’s job is to know what ammunition to use, how weather conditions could impact the task, the locations of the battery (guns) and the target, plus figure out what’s in between those two locations that could get in the way, such as, “is there a mountain range that’s so high we’re going to have to shoot at a higher angle.”

Once the information is collected, the 13Ds do their calculations using computers and perform a system of checks and balances of sorts amongst the team, called data bumping, to ensure the round will meet its target precisely.

“When that round leaves the howitzer, it’s scary but it’s awesome at the same time to know that I play a major role in exactly where that round’s going to go,” says SGT McCoy. “You’re going to put it exactly where it needs to be. Not close. I like perfection.”

While this MOS might not translate directly to a similar career in the private sector, the job does require a security clearance, which is attractive to employers, says SGT McCoy. Another advantage is employers know they can depend on a person who has a military background. 

“One thing you get when you hire a 13D or any Soldier is you get leadership skills. Anybody that comes out of basic [training], they’ve got all the leadership skills you could ask for.”

SGT McCoy says he plans to make the Guard his career – at least for the foreseeable future.

“I love it. Army’s for me,” he says.

By age 43, SGT McCoy will be eligible for the Guard’s retirement benefits, but he doesn’t plan to stop working. He had been going to college for a business degree, but is considering the education field as well.

“A college education is pretty nice to have. It’s kind of hard to get a job without it,” he says.

If you’re looking for a way to pay for a degree and still be able to pay your bills, the Army National Guard offers a number of education benefits. Many States like Oklahoma provide 100 percent tuition reimbursement, but contact your local recruiter to find out what your State offers.

And for more information about military occupational specialties, check out our job board for details. There are more than 150 career fields to explore.

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January’s Hot Job is … 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic

Each month throughout 2016, On Your Guard is spotlighting a “hot job.” What defines these featured jobs as “hot”? One all-important benchmark: the number of times people searched for it on the National Guard jobs board. Here’s what’s hot this month.

If you’ve ever thought about a career as a mechanic, you might want to consider training to become a 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic in the Army National Guard.

In this job, or what we call your military occupational specialty, (MOS), you’ll get under the hood of all kinds of wheeled modes of transportation, including armored vehicles. You’ll inspect, service, maintain, repair, and test wheeled vehicles and any kind of associated material handling systems, like trailers.

This is a highly physical job, but it also requires an interest in learning how things work and good troubleshooting skills to keep vehicles in top working order.

To get a better idea of the role a 91B has in keeping his or her Unit moving, watch this video, and then read more about training and the benefits of serving in the National Guard.

After basic training, you’ll have about 12 weeks of advanced individual training (AIT) where you’ll learn about the ins and outs of engines, electrical wiring systems, and vehicle recovery operations. This on-the-job instruction in the field and the classroom takes place at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.

Guard service is unique in that Soldiers serve part-time and close to where they live. That gives them an opportunity to have a civilian career, too. Good mechanics are always in demand at repair shops, auto dealerships, state highway agencies, and even farm equipment companies.

The Guard also offers great education benefits like tuition assistance, which can be used at a vocational school for additional training or college. Other benefits include health and life insurance and home loan assistance.

If you think you have what it takes to keep the Army National Guard’s engines running smoothly, visit our job board and contact a recruiter today.

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Celebrating the New Year, New Opportunities for Women and a Proud Legacy

Hello there! On Your Guard is back from the holiday break. While we were out, a couple of newsworthy things happened.

Female National Guard soldierFirst, the Department of Defense announced in December that all military combat jobs, without exception, would be opened to women in 2016. This means more career choices will be available for female Soldiers who meet the requirements for those jobs. We’ll have more on that for you in the next few months as these new rules take effect. Secondly, the Army National Guard celebrated its 379th birthday on Dec. 13.

Here’s a little history on that: In 1636, before the United States was even founded, groups of American settlers organized themselves to protect their homes and fellow citizens from attack. This proud and uniquely Guard legacy of neighbors working to help neighbors continues to evolve.

Today’s Citizen-Soldier® is called to serve the community and the country. Because service is primarily local and part-time, Soldiers have an opportunity to pursue higher education or civilian careers while they maintain their military training close to home.

This service comes with benefits that help fulfill dreams that many people have of being able to afford a great education and build financial security for the future. The Guard offers money for college and skills training in more than 150 career fields in areas as diverse as aviation and defense to intelligence, technology, medicine, and law. These are careers that are needed in the military and the civilian world.

We hope you’ll check out this blog throughout 2016 to learn more about how you can kick-start your career and start making your dreams for the future come true. In the meantime, detailed descriptions for all Guard jobs can be found on our job board.

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