Both Kurt Doughty, 18, and Brian Griffin, 17, feel they have been called to serve their country and are looking forward to their future careers in the military.
"For me, this was an honorable thing to do," Doughty said about enlisting in the United State Marines to be an aviation electronics technician more than a year ago. "I wanted to do something with my life that I would be proud of. All of the Marines I've talked to have said they 'never regretted' a day they were in the service."
"I enlisted in the Army-Airborne division as a Chaplin's assistant. I have felt the spirit of the ministry calling me for the past year," Griffin said, adding that he hopes to become an officer. "And, although I will go through basic like all enlisted men for nine weeks, I will also go to Chaplin training right afterward. My mission will be to support the needs of the soldiers. I really look forward to serving those who sacrifice so much for so many."
Both young men plan on taking advantage of all the educational programs and traveling opportunities available through the military.
Doughty wants to travel the world outside Indiana, hoping at some point to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan, while Griffin, who doesn't really have a particular place he wants to visit, said, "Traveling the world is just an added bonus for me."
Although nervous about their decisions at first, both young men said they have the full support and pride of their families as they prepare to leave for basic training.
"I am the first member of my family to voluntarily enlist in the military," Doughty said. "I have an older brother, JP Hathaway, who is leaving in February for the Navy. But the other members of my family who have served in the military, they were all drafted."
Griffin is also a first-timer.
"I have several cousins who are in the military, but I am the first in my immediate family to enlist," he said. "One of my cousins is an Army supply sergeant. He really has helped me learn about the military and supported my decision."
Griffin is scheduled to report for duty and arrive at Fort Jackson, S.C. for basic training on Jan. 8, 2008, and then move on to Fort Benning, Ga., for further training.
Doughty is scheduled to report for duty and arrive at Pensacola, Fla., on Jan. 22, 2008, for his first year of training and schooling.
Both young men admit their choice to graduate mid-term and enlist in the military may not be right for everyone, but they offered the following advise for upcoming graduates to consider.
"Really look at what will better you the most as you graduate, and what will best suit your future," Griffin said. "Think about what you like to do, and find a way to do it."
Doughty urged high school students and their parents to take a good look at the educational benefits that are available through military service. But he understands it is a big commitment that comes with an even bigger responsibility.
"If you are not going to join the military, at least support the military," Doughty said. "They fight for our freedoms, for those who sometimes can't fight for themselves. If you don't support our soldiers and their families, they sacrifice all for nothing."