National Guard enlistment paves the way for senior’s professional career aspirations

Senior Monet Bastin gets sworn in to the military on Sept. 29, 2021 at the 182 Airlift Wing in Peoria, Illinois.

Courtesy of Monet Bastin

Senior Monet Bastin gets sworn in to the military on Sept. 29, 2021 at the 182 Airlift Wing in Peoria, Illinois.

Claire Yung, Profiles Editor & Social Media Editor

Senior Monet Bastin (center) poses for a selfie with seniors Reese Herrman (left) and Rubi Cajas (right) going into the Air National Guard and from Normal and Bolingbrook, Illinois respectively.

Senior Monet Bastin plans to be in San Antonio, Texas for boot camp July 7-29, 10 days after she graduates. Next, sh

e’ll go to Mississippi Aug. 10 to Sept. 1 for techschool training that’s geared toward her role in management

 operations. Bastin will undergo all of this training because on Sept. 29, 2021, she enrolled in the Air National Guard. 

“Since middle school, I’ve always had the desire to join the military,” Bastin said. “I’m a third generation military on my dad’s side. It’s always just been something that I want to do.”

After she completes her training, Bastin’s role in the military will be command and control battle management operations, for which the air force specialty code is 1C5X1. She will work with the special operations team tactical air control party, otherwise known as TACPS, to call out airstrikes.

“I’m the communication link between the people on the ground and the airplanes in the sky,” Monet said. “I did have a medical job that I could have taken, but I decided that I wanted something a little bit different. I feel like medicine has been a huge part of my life with clubs, programs and camps that I’ve done, just knowing that I want to do that as a career. I wanted something a little different just for fun so medicine is not my whole life.”

Up until her senior year, Bastin was planning to go to college right after graduation and join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) on campus, which prepares students to graduate college as military reserves officers.. However, Bastin’s plans came to a halt after visiting colleges in the Carolinas. 

“After looking at colleges and hearing from people that are doing ROTC, I realized the time commitment for ROTC is huge. The burnout rate for pre-med students, which is what I want to do, is very high,” Bastin said. “I didn’t want to burn myself out because I do care about my military career, but I also care more about my professional career. If I did both, I would have to give up one or the other eventually. I was kind of at a standstill.”

Then, the Army National Guard came and talked to Bastin’s emergency medical technician class at the Technology Center of DuPage. They shared that a student’s tuition would be paid and those enlisted would receive benefits such as health care, dental and life insurance and also they would receive a salary if they were attending school while serving.

 “It’s guaranteed,” Bastin said. “You didn’t have to apply for a scholarship or anything. I talked to them for a little bit and met with a recruiter. Then I was very set on joining the Army National Guard because I figured it all fell into place right at the time I was trying to decide what I wanted to do.”

Then, Bastin’s parents mentioned the Air National Guard, and Bastin visited the Air National Guard base in Peoria, Illinois. 

“I met with my recruiter Sergeant [Stephen] Graves, and he walked me through everything,” Bastin said. “The benefits are exactly the same. The one thing that changed my mind to decide to join the Air National Guard instead of the Army National Guard was they have a lot better amenities when it comes to housing and bases. The other more appealing thing for me was that they really work with you to advance you into your professional career. So they are very career oriented, which I really liked.”

A week after talking to the recruiter, Bastin visited a military entrance processing station and got medically cleared to join the military. While she was there, Bastin also took the ​​armed services vocational aptitude battery test to determine what jobs she was eligible for. Two weeks later she enlisted on Sept. 29.

“I would just say the biggest factor for me, considering the guard in general, whether you go Army or Air Force, is just the benefits,” Bastin said. “A lot of people, especially if you’re around here in Naperville, they do not realize that you can get your tuition paid for if you stay in-state at a state-funded school. I definitely suggest for  anybody that’s going into the military to look at the National Guard, especially if they know they want to go to school. They do have a contract of course, like any other military job.” 

Bastin’s contract lasts six years and ends Sept. 29 2027. Currently, she drives down to Peoria once a month for a weekend to do her duty. When she enters college she will continue to do so.

“Legally, if you work somewhere full time or if you go to school full time, they can’t deny you the days off to go because you technically work federally,” Bastin said. “Once you start school, it’s just more communicating with your professors. They really do care that you’re serving your country, so they’re going to be understanding. The only thing I didn’t see myself doing is taking a gap year. I saw myself going straight from high school to a four year university so it took me a while to finally be like ‘this is what’s happening.’ But knowing that I’m going to be in school for a long time as a doctor, I’m okay with it. ”

In the future, Bastin sees herself continuing her education and military career.

“Even my time in high school still counts toward my six years, so I have one year and a couple months after I graduated from my undergrad of still being in the military,” Bastin said. “I see myself re-enlisting for another six years or so. And the good thing about that is if you want to do a graduate program or you want to be a doctor or lawyer the military looks at that, and they say that we can use you as that profession. So I would transfer out of the job that I have chosen into becoming a doctor if they pay for my medical school because they, in a sense, they need you more than you really need them to pay for it. And they do have different ways that you can become a doctor and have them pay for school.”

Bastin has developed a support system with other high school students that are also leaving home for the military around the same time as her. 

“Knowing that I have less than 30 days before I leave is a little nerve wracking,” Bastin said. “There are other people that I have been leaning on. A couple of us are all girls, so we really have connected well. That’s one great thing about the military: the camaraderie, because we’re all going through the same thing. You’re all able to feed off each other’s worries and happiness. ” 

Bastin’s father, Jason Bastin, who was previously in the military, is another person she’s been able to confide in. 

“My dad did leave when he was 17 as well,” Bastin said. “He grew up in a really small town in Kentucky, but if it wasn’t for him leaving and taking huge risks to try something new, like force yourself to grow, he wouldn’t have ever met my mom. They met when he was stationed in California. Taking those risks, I feel like it’s really scary, but in the end, all of us know that we’re going to get through it. You’re going to end up being a better person or having grown from it.”

While Bastin said her mother is “freaking out a bit,” her father is excited and proud of her decision. 

“I couldn’t be prouder and I’m excited,” Bastin’s father said. “I thought she was going to do the medical stuff. That’s what I did. I assumed she would do the same thing but what she signed up for is pretty interesting. She’s going to get some actual combat training. If she gets deployed, she’ll get some battle experience. It’s not what I thought she would have done, but it was her choice and I’m proud of what she decided to do.”

Despite the changes to her plans and the nerves, Bastin is excited to go into the Air National Guard.

“I didn’t see myself enlisting or being in the position I am now, and I’m very excited and grateful that this is kind of the path that I have been set on,” Bastin said. “Don’t freak out if the plans change all of a sudden, because I mean, I feel like mine changed within a month. I’m very grateful for being set on this path.”