GARRISON PETAWAWA – There's no life like it, and Renfrew County students have had the opportunity to find out first hand about the military as a career option.
A total of 15 students from Pembroke, Petawawa, Renfrew and Arnprior have spent much of their semester taking part in the Military Co-operative Education Program, offered through the 42 Field Artillery Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish) Royal Canadian Artillery.
Under it, the students earn four high school credits towards co-operative education while also gaining practical experience by completing two basic training courses in a field they may wish to pursue further as a career.
A bonus is the students are also bringing home a salary by being part of the Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserve, while also attending school. By the end of the 45 day program, each will earn around $4,055.
The regiment brought back its Military Co-operative Education Program for students 16 years and older in 2016 to renewed success. It promises to provided unique training and transferable life skills, developing a strong sense of discipline, drive and confidence in its subjects.
Sgt. Geoffery Nickelo, the program's recruiter, said this co-operative opportunity also exposes students who are interested in joining the military a taste of the experience, and to find out if they are suited to life in the armed forces.
He said the group, which started in February, have been training hard and by the end of the day will need to meet the standards of recruits before they continue onward. The program wraps up with a five day exercise where the students will have to demonstrate their applied knowledge in field craft and safe weapons handling learned throughout the previous 40 days.
Nickelo said once the students successfully complete the program, they have a choice of being released from the primary reserve or continue part-time with the army and begin training as an artilleryman with 42 Field Regiment.
Grant Robichaud, 17, of Fellowes High School said he had been thinking of going into the military for some time, but wasn't sure how to go about it. Then his guidance counsellor suggested the military co-operative program.
“It is challenging for sure,” he said. “It pushes you mentally and physically, and you learn how to work as a team.”
Julia Currie, 17, of Arnprior District High School , said she is really enjoying it, although she is worried about the weapons handling a bit.
“I'm working on it,” she said, admitting being stressed out about the five day exercise which will form their final exam. Still, she is determined to keep on track.
“I think this will give me a good head start in a career,” Currie said, and stated she wants to stay with the 42 Field Regiment.
Cameron Watts, 17, of Petawawa's Valour High School said both his parents are in the military, and the program is not that different from what he has been led to expect.
“A lot of people have been giving me advice about what I was to go through,” he said, so he was prepared for it.
Watts said he has been enjoying the experience, and is considering pursuing a career in the military, but is thinking of joining the Royal Canadian Air Force.
All three students state the program isn't for everyone, but for those interested in joining the Canadian Armed Forces, they would recommend it as a good way to see if one is suited to it.
Those interested in learning more about the Military Co-operative Education Program are encouraged to call Sgt. Nickelo at 613-732-4470 ext. 252.