Active duty after High School

Millard West senior enlists in military, decides to go into active duty


Tenley Wright

Senior Mackenzie Gonzales uses the DEP app. This app helps her study for tests and prepare for certain events.

Tenley Wright, Staff Reporter

Deciding what path to take after high school can be a tough decision for most students. However, senior Mackenzie Gonzales has had her post-graduation plans mapped out since freshman year. Gonzales recently enlisted into the United States Air Force and is currently going through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) as an Airman Basic. 

One reason for her interest in enlisting was the fact that she has ties to most branches of the Military. 

“My father was part of the military police for the Air Force and my uncle just retired from the Army,” Gonzales said. “My best friend’s father is actually a Lieutenant Colonel for the Air Force, so I’ve obviously grown up around the Air Force and Army.”

Gonzales also knew that enlisting would not only benefit herself but her family as well.

“I knew that with my family having three daughters that need to pay for college, the benefits the Air Force would give us would basically help them pay for two kids instead of three,” Gonzales said “…Once I’m out of duty, my schooling is paid for, as well as my health insurance…That really played into my decision personally.”

Ever since freshman year, Gonzales has been preparing to enlist in the military.  

“Whenever recruiters were at school I would talk to them,” Gonzales said. “I spoke with the Army and Navy, and I also spoke with the guard. I knew going in, the Marines was not something I wanted to go into, but I still spoke with them. Eventually, I was between Air Force and Navy and I sat down with both recruiters at different meetings and since I had always grown up with the Air Force, I finally decided that that’s what I would enlist in.”

Instead of going college first, Gonzales has been preparing to go into active duty after High School. 

“To prepare I had to study for the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test, and take that,” Gonzales said. “I then had to get all of my medical records to my recruiter so he can send it to MEPS, which is the military entrance processing station. So I had to go through that process, which is very lengthy. It’s a physical hearing and eyesight test and all of that. So now that I’ve sworn into the program The first Wednesday of every month I go to Offutt with my recruiter and all the other DEPs students. That’s where we training, lifting, running,  etc. to get ready for ship off.”

The major misconception with the Air Force is that everybody flies planes, which isn’t true. Gonzales has no experience or training when it comes to airplanes. However, when she enlisted through the DEP program, she got to pick five choices for a job. Generally, they try to get you into your first choice. Gonzales’ top pick was geospatial intelligence.

With geospatial intelligence, Gonzales would view satellite imagery of where troops are deployed and certain activity within or near the troops. She would then analyze if the activity is normal, or if it is something the troops need to be aware of. 

Gonzales will graduate with the class of 2020, and begin the process of going into active duty with the Air Force. She is still undecided if she will go to college in the future, or continue with a career in the Military.