Recruiting for duty

Alumnus+Carlos+Andres+Franco%2C+right%2C+wears+his+uniform+as+he+poses+with+a+colleague+on+Pomona+Catholic+career+day.
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Recruiting for duty

Alumnus Carlos Andres Franco, right, wears his uniform as he poses with a colleague on Pomona Catholic career day.

Alumnus Carlos Andres Franco, right, wears his uniform as he poses with a colleague on Pomona Catholic career day.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Andres Franco

Alumnus Carlos Andres Franco, right, wears his uniform as he poses with a colleague on Pomona Catholic career day.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Andres Franco

Photo courtesy of Carlos Andres Franco

Alumnus Carlos Andres Franco, right, wears his uniform as he poses with a colleague on Pomona Catholic career day.

Carlos Andres Franco, who spent time flying helicopters to aid medical evacuations for security operations and disaster relief missions, has been serving his country as part of the National Guard for the past 19 years.

Franco, a Diamond Bar High School class of 1996 alumnus, started out in the National Guard by assisting the supply sergeant and managing equipment for five years as a supply non-commissioned officer, half a year as a finance section leader and three and a half years as a human resources specialist. He then transitioned into the aviation field, transporting troops in helicopters and managing deliverage and storage of vital supplies for troops as a supply and logistics specialist for four years. After a desire to switch fields, he is now applying his knowledge in his prior fields to his current occupation working as a career counselor and recruiter and retention non-commissioned officer.

“I ended up falling in love with these jobs because I am able to help others when they are in their worst times, either because their home was burned by fires or because it’s flooded,” Franco said. “Watching [their] faces light up when we help them is priceless.”

As a National Guard recruiter for the past 10 years, Franco has visited numerous high school and undergraduate colleges—including DBHS—to recruit students by discussing the benefits of joining the military.

After his first few years as a business marketing major at Mt. SAC, Franco heard about the various opportunities the military offers. He decided to learn more about the Air Force and the National Guard and acquire some hands-on experience. While he was first interested when he learned of the military paying for his college education, he stayed for the enjoyment and the numerous other benefits it brought him. Those in the National Guard can be deployed by the governor of the state, usually to help after natural disasters, or by the president to support the  federal military. Considered as part of the U.S. Army, those who work for the Guard can be called into service by the government to serve overseas or in the U.S.

“The National Guard recruiter dealt with me on a much more personal level, rather than [seeing me as] just a number,” Franco said.

Similar to the National Guard recruiter who inspired him to join, Franco now works as a recruiter to encourage others to also join the Guard.

“[The job] gives me the opportunity to let others know that they, too, can help with the great physical resources we have available and how they can get that feeling of pride and joy of serving this great state and country, ” Franco said.

For Franco, working in the military has helped him become knowledgeable in diverse fields due to his experience working many different jobs there.

“To grow in the military, you have to be very versatile and have different knowledge so you can lead different people from different blocks of life,” Franco said. “[My previous military occupations] allowed me to grow more as an individual.”

Franco plans on changing jobs within the next year since the National Guard has requested him to work in operations or marketing.

“I might be changing jobs in the next year or so to transition to a different position,” Franco said. “I look forward to leading other soldiers in that realm.”

As for his knowledge in the business and marketing department, Franco continues to educate himself in that field, creating flexibility in career options when he leaves the military.

During his time at DBHS, Franco was involved in French and Spanish club and performed in Dance Club and Drama. He remembers former history and economics teacher Bill Zylstra, GLC Kevin Patterson and former career counselor and dean Maggie Buchan, all of whom made a lasting impression on Franco. Buchan in particular was a mother figure to him during his time at the school and has kept in touch with him.

For students who aspire to work for the military one day, Franco said the National Guard is one of the best options due to the large variety of opportunities it presents. Those in the National Guard work one week out of the month, giving them both work experience and the time to finish their education.

“The struggle I run into is the disappointment of how people view the military as a whole,” Franco said. “It is disappointing and upsetting to see how they don’t care and misjudge the people in uniform. But even with the negatives, I always say that I will continue to share what I know and perhaps more will take on the challenge and get the honor to serve, just like I have done for the last 19 years.”