Hendricken students got a unique opportunity Friday when Captain Andrew Loiselle of the U.S. Navy, a 1984 Hendricken graduate, talked with students interested in enlisting in the military and answered their questions.
“I have no connection to recruiting in any way, shape or form,” Loiselle said following his presentation. “I wanted to provide them an opportunity to ask questions that they don’t want to ask a recruiter because recruiters have an agenda.”
Questions ranged from how much vacation time do you get (30 days a year) and how can you use it to whether or not you and your wife can serve together to what medical requirements are involved to join the military.
“You will all go through a physical,” Loiselle said. “If you wear glasses, that’s fine. You won’t be able to be a pilot and fly a plane, but the planes have a bucket seat for a second guy and it’s fine if he wears glasses.”
When asked if a soldier can serve with his wife on the same ship, Loiselle said no, as the pair is split up. He also said if someone joins the Army and then realizes it’s not for them and wants to transfer to the Navy, there’s a way to do that.
Loiselle also talked about the importance of privacy and being aware of what students post online, such as their Facebook profile. He finished his presentation by telling students one of the most important things they can do is their schoolwork.
“Do your schoolwork on a regular basis and keep your priorities straight,” he said. “That’s really the name of the game. If you want to control your destiny, make sure you have everything in the bank and that bank is your academics.”
Loiselle said he was not expecting such a large turnout, which numbered around 80 students.
“It was an infinitely larger turnout than I expected,” he said. “There were a lot of good questions and I’m happy to return here after my next deployment. I have a true sense of loyalty to this institution.”
According to an e-mail from Dave Curtis, development officer at Hendricken, who informed the Beacon of the captain’s visit to his alma mater, Loiselle’s next assignment will take him to the Middle East. In the e-mail, Curtis said Loiselle commands the supply department on ships, most recently the USS Teddy Roosevelt.
Hendricken Principal Jay Brennan said Loiselle was in the area working at the Naval War College in Newport and had some free time on his hands.
“He said he would love to come in and talk to the students,” Brennan said. “It’s an opportunity for them to listen to a captain in the U.S. Navy who’s in charge of assault ships. He’s flown a lot of planes, landed on aircraft carriers and has had flying missions in Iraq and other hot spots, so it’s a great opportunity for the kids.”
Following Loiselle’s talk, Brennan said he was grateful for the captain to take the time to visit and talk with the students, to which the crowd responded with a standing ovation to show their appreciation.
“It was really informative and I learned a lot of stuff,” said senior Ryan Kelly. “I’m interested in the military; it’s what I want to do in college and after college.”
Kelly said both his father and grandfather served in the Army and it’s a path he wants to follow.
Fellow classmate Mac Berriman, also a senior, echoed Kelly.
“I come from a family with a background of those who’ve served, so it’s always been a presence in my family and I’ve always been interested it, but now I’m at an age where I have to decide if I want to step up and commit to doing the same,” he said.
Berriman said he’s confident in his decision to join the military, but hasn’t decided yet whether it will be the Army or the Marines.
“It’s a huge commitment on either side and I’m really confident about it,” he said. “It’s more than a career choice; it’s a lifestyle choice so you want to know 100 percent, so it’s great to get an outside perspective.”
Kelly said he’s always known he wanted to join the Army, adding, “I’ve always been anti-Navy,” but admitted after hearing from Loiselle there are a lot of similarities between the two branches.
“It’s great that we have a captain come and talk to us to give us this perspective,” he said.
Berriman said there are an overwhelming number of students at Hendricken craving knowledge of the military and what it means to serve, and even if it’s not something they want to pursue, they want to come out and hear from people like Loiselle to see if it’s something they may want to explore.
Kelly said there’s always a great number of students that show up for military information sessions.
“It shows our patriotism, to have 80 kids come out for a 40-minute information session,” he said. “Each one is packed.”