Recruiter helps youth move 'forward'

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May 15—Emily Lule, a senior at Marysville High School that has enlisted into the California Army National Guard, said her family was initially not very pleased with her decision to join the service.

"They thought Army, they thought I was going to die. So they were not very happy with my decision," Lule said. "I got my Sergeant (Damian Rubio) to go talk to them, and after that, they were convinced, and it's been a year now, and they're super happy with my choice. They love what I do, and they're very supportive."

Sergeant First Class Damian Rubio helped enlist Lule into the California Army National Guard, and he remembers the conversation that he had with her parents. He said, in general, there are misconceptions that people have about the California Army National Guard.

"We are part of the Army, but we are very different. We have very different missions, so once they find out it's only a one-weekend-a-month commitment and you're staying close to home, it's a little bit more relieving for the families," Rubio said.

Rubio has recruited over 100 people, including many high schoolers, into the service.

The Army National Guard includes the California Army National Guard, and it is a reserve component of the United States Army. Enlisted soldiers specialize in a career field and are required to spend, at minimum, one weekend a month and two weeks a year in training. However, the Army National Guard also may have to respond to natural disasters or other state emergencies, and units can be activated to defend the nation when needed, according to the Army National Guard's website.

Lule enlisted as a human resource specialist, and another young adult that Rubio enlisted, Luis Villa, enlisted into the California Army National Guard as a military police officer. Villa is graduating this year from South Lindhurst High School, and he said the 10 weeks of basic training they are required to go through pushes a person to their limits.

"It was a new experience, and it was very hard and difficult," Villa said. "It just makes you more disciplined."

Villa and Lule completed their 10 weeks of basic training during a summer break. They traveled out of state to complete the training.

"(The hardest part of the training was) being away from your family. At least for me, it was my first time being away from family for such a long time," Lule said. "And then, as well, it's a lot of physical activity that most people are not used to."

Rubio said that the biggest concern people have is that they are afraid of the 10-week training.

"So that's the biggest obstacle people have to overcome. But most of the time, they come and start drilling with us and doing the one weekend-a-month drills with us, and then they start making friends with people at the training," Rubio said. "And that kind of helps relieve that part, having familiar faces."

Outside of basic training, there is also a period of Advanced Individual Training that is eventually required. Advanced Individual Training teaches skills for a person's particular specialty.

Rubio has watched people pursue several different kinds of careers, and he likes helping out the community.

"It feels good seeing my people move up the ranks and going forward in life," Rubio said.