National Guard provides college opportunities

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Alabama National Guard provides many opportunities for education and career guidance.

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce received an overview of these benefits during its Aug. meeting.

Alabama Army National Guard Lt. Col. Brad Benton, commander of the 22nd Recruiting and Retention Battalion, said he joined the Alabama National Guard as a junior in high school after taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

The ASVAB is a free test available to anyone who is a junior in high school or older can take. The test scores are good for two years. Benton said the test can also help high school students prepare for the ACT.

“It changed my life, and it changed it for the better,” Benton said. “It afforded me opportunities that without them I don’t know where I would be today.”

He said the Alabama National Guard paid for his college degree.

“The same opportunities that were available to me are available to young men and young women who are in our communities today,” Benton said.

The Alabama National Guard is in every county of the state. The Clanton Armory is a part of the Alabama National Guard. Benton said Alabama National Guard is one of the top five employers in the state.

“Most of our soldiers are part-time, which means they do it one weekend a month, two weeks out of the year,” Benton said.

Only 20 percent are full-time employees. Benton said all members of the Guard receive the same education and training.

He said partnerships are important to the Guard in helping those who are serving part-time and looking for full-time employment.

“They come to the table with leadership training, specialized training,” Benton said.  “They are drug free … and you can count on them to be there when they are supposed to be there.”

A recently enacted law puts the scholarship funds given to those serving in the Alabama Guard members at the average cost of a four-year state school.

“We get paid good for what we do,” Benton said. “An entry level soldier that joins the National Guard … is making about $15 for that one weekend a month that they work.”

The National Guard has opportunities for a variety of careers.

“We have more jobs than just infantry … if you want to be in logistics, if you want to be in health care, if you want to be in information technology, cyber security, a lumber, a carpenter, a truck driver, a mechanic, we have all of those jobs,” Benton said.

Basic training is scheduled for the summer for students so it does not interfere with classes.

Those serving in the National Guard also receive retirement and life insurance benefits in addition to low cost health insurance options.

Eligibility requirements for the Alabama National Guard include must be 17 to 35 years old, physically able to serve, U.S. citizen or legal resident and taking the ASVAB.

Benton said it is up to the principal whether to offer the test. However, the test can be taken online through a recruiting office or at a testing site.

The Alabama National Guard Armory in Chilton County has five openings and Shelby County has 10 openings,” Benton said.

“That changes every single day,” Benton said.

There were 75 other National Guard job openings in surrounding counties when Benton gave his presentation.

Benton can be reached at