Young people interested in becoming military officers still have time to register for a conference Saturday at Mesa High School that will be attended by two Arizona congressmen.
"Basically, this is the largest event we have held," said Kelly Hedman, an aide to Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. "We have 620 R.S.V.P.s."
Representatives of the armed services will explain how to apply to the five U.S. military academies, all but one which require applicants to first receive a nomination by a member of Congress or the president. The Coast Guard Academy does not require a nomination.
Flake and Sen. Jon Kyl, RAriz., will host the event and will meet some of the students, Hedman said.
The large expected turnout is due partly to extra help from public schools in getting out details of the military scholarships this year, she said.
The ongoing war in Iraq may also be boosting interest, Flake said.
"When in a time of war, the military are up front and talked about more," Flake said. "That reminds people of that career option."
Flake called the military academies "a great deal for further education." But with televised, often bloody pictures from Iraq beamed to homes each night, Flake said he expects the subject of war to come up during the conference.
"The first and foremost reason we have a military is to fight wars," he said. "That’s something you need to let people know."
Graduates from the Army’s West Point or one of the other academies serve up to six years in their respective branches as commissioned officers, although Merchant Marine graduates can serve in the Reserves.
Applicants are judged by their academic records, SAT or ACT scores, physical fitness, examples of leadership in their communities and other criteria.
What: Conference for high school students interested in joining a U.S. military academy
When: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Mesa High School, 1630 E. Southern Ave.
Information: (480) 833-0092