Captain Nick Anderson: JAG attorney
What he does: Capt. Anderson is an attorney for the Judge Advocate General’s Corp (JAG) in Fort Riley, Kan. He prosecutes significant cases including rape, assault and desertion. Since these charges bring long prison sentences, his work requires a sense of ethics as well as a keen understanding of the law. “Whether you are looking at JAG as a three-year hitch or as a permanent career, it is an amazing, immediate experience that will serve you well for your entire legal career,” he says.
How he got there: During high school, Anderson investigated several military branches before choosing the Army. An ROTC scholarship helped pay for his education at Boston College. In return, he was obligated to spend a few weekends a year in Army training. After college, Anderson completed law school at the University of Washington and then headed to JAG school to study military law.
Did you know: Even though Anderson spends most of his day in the courtroom, as an Army officer, he starts each morning with a six-mile run!
Contemplating a military law career?
Like all law firms, the JAG Corps is attracted to well-rounded candidates. Grades are obviously important, but it’s also smart to join relevant extracurricular activities, such as student government. Participation in sports or athletics can help you meet their fitness requirements.
Insider tip: Law school tuition bills add up fast! “Watch out for debts so your career options aren’t limited,” cautions Anderson.
Related jobs: Army Reserve JAG Corps, paralegal specialist, criminal investigations special agent
For more information:
• Army JAG: goarmy.com/jag/
• JAG Corps Internships: goarmy.com/jag/summer_intern_program.jsp
• Air Force JAG: jagusaf.hq.af.mil/
• Navy JAG: navy.com/careers/officer/attorneys/
Rev. Darrell Morton: Chaplain
What he does: As head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Federal Chaplaincy Ministries program in Washington, D.C., Rev. Morton provides ongoing training and helps maintain connections among 400 military chaplains. Morton also organizes global conferences, visits chaplains on assignment, and recruits new chaplains.
How he got there: Morton was a pastor in Minnesota when a colleague asked him to help a National Guard unit. As their chaplain, he was expected to travel with his soldiers. Morton enjoyed the experience so much he decided to pursue a full-time military chaplaincy career.
As an Air Force chaplain, he held religious services, counseled service members and their families and performed weddings, baptisms and funerals. “Chaplains provide the same level of ministry as traditional pastors, and a whole lot more,” says Morton. He retired from the Air Force chaplaincy program after 25 years and recently started his new position overseeing the ELCA’s chaplaincy program.
Did you know: Previous military experience is not required to become a chaplain. Morton had served earlier in life as an enlisted soldier, and says the experience helped him to better understand the needs of his soldiers and their families. However, he says seminary should be your primary focus if you want to pursue a chaplaincy career.
Contemplating a chaplaincy career?
The Department of Defense requires an undergraduate degree and either a master’s of divinity or an equivalent graduate degree congruent with your religious beliefs. Three years of regular ministry work, an endorsement from your ecclesiastical organization (Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim, etc.), and a background check are required prior to receiving your first chaplaincy assignment.
Insider tip: “The most challenging part of the chaplaincy is the reality of the ongoing war,” says Morton. “However, the chaplaincy is not a political appointment. A chaplain is called to provide ministry to the service people. Your personal political views are irrelevant.”
Related jobs: Chaplain assistant, religious program specialist
For more information:
• Air Force chaplains: usafhc.af.mil
• Army chaplains: goarmy.com/chaplain/index.jsp
• Navy (including Marine Corps and Coast Guard) chaplains: navy.com/careers/officer/clergy
• Jewish Chaplains Council: jcca.org/jwb
Marc Puhl: Aerographer’s mate chief
What he does: As an aerographer’s mate chief, Marc Puhl provides weather forecasts and advisories for crews on airplanes, ships, submarines and land. His work has taken him around the world.
How he got there: Puhl joined the Navy on the delayed entry program before his senior year of high school. After boot camp, he attended several military weather schools to study atmospheric physics, weather balloon launching and air data analysis. Next he spent six years traveling with the naval fleet collecting, analyzing and reporting weather data. Puhl then completed an advanced military program through which he studied oceanography, underwater sound acoustics and geophysics.
Did you know: “Weather affects not only military personnel, but also the equipment they operate,” says Puhl. From pilots and air crews to ships at sea and Marines landing on beaches, knowledge of the weather is imperative for operational success and human safety.
Contemplating a military meteorology career?
High school coursework in advanced math, physics, chemistry and geography is essential. Being in good physical shape also helps. Talk to relatives with military backgrounds in addition to meeting with recruiters. “Each service offers unique jobs and travel opportunities,” explains Puhl.
Insider tip: The military conducts background checks. “Having a clean record and staying away from drugs makes you an outstanding candidate,” says Puhl.
Related jobs: Oceanographer assistant, field artillery
For more information:
• Navy: navy.com/careers/officer/science/
• Army: goarmy.com/
• Air Force: airforce.com/careers/officer/careers.php