OP ED: Stand up and salute the class of 2017

Col. Eric M. Saulsbury
Col. Eric M. Saulsbury

I am Lt. Col. Eric M. Saulsbury and I command the Baton Rouge Army Recruiting Battalion. We are responsible for recruiting young men and women for the Army in Louisiana, Mississippi and the western third of Tennessee.

During the last school year, we enlisted 717 young men and women from the class of 2017 into the US Army and Army Reserve- 74 are from the Hammond, Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. These 717 young people are part of the one percent of young Americans who qualify to be part of our team.

While our soldiers receive guaranteed job training, money for college, full health care and work locations around the world, their number one reason for enlisting was to be a part of something bigger than themselves, service to their country.

You may have heard in the news recently that it is tougher to join the Army than ever before. The Army of the future requires highly qualified volunteers. Only three in ten young Americans fully meet our stringent qualifications. Our new soldiers will have a high school diploma. They will meet age-appropriate height and weight standards. None will have engaged in serious criminal misconduct. They will not have had a drug or alcohol dependency.

Our Baton Rouge Battalion team makes the dreams come true for thousands who wish to serve their Nation. It is true that in some cases, we take them away from their hometowns, but several of our Reserve soldiers stay locally and work as part of our Army Reserve team.

These still-young people come back with job experience and many benefits, including guaranteed money for college. They come back prepared to be productive members of your community.

We thank the schools, coaches, mentors and, most all, the parents and families of those 717 new soldiers. We ask them to provide encouragement for the next several hundred qualified young people willing to stand up and honorably serve our country.

Lt. Col. Eric M. Saulsbury is a 20 year Army veteran with a several deployments in support of humanitarian, peacekeeping and combat operations.

Salute to our Graduates and Future Soldiers:

Adrian Bernard Lamotte

Alec Harmon Aidt

Austin Baker

Austin Dewayne Carter

Austin James Johnson

Austin Kelly Anderson

Austin Rishard James

Bailey Christopher Pierce

Bailey Johnson

Blake Andrew Delatte

Brandon Lee Pixley

Brendon Wesley Bratcher

Brennan Michael Dyer

Cameron Isiah Ramadan

Chasity Vashae Newman

Christian Gabriel Johnson

Christopher Lee Jarreau

Conner Joseph Langley

Cory Philip Pixley

Dajah Dechea Dunn

Dakota Klicker

Daniel Lee Feagins

Danny Dallas White

Dathan Paul Tillman

Devin Gage Dolton

Doris Mathilda Redmon

Eddie Lee Gray

Elizabeth Ferretiz

Emily Lynn Harrell

Harley Reanna Maine Story

Isiah Alexander Biagas

Jackshua Anthony Colon

Jacob Thomas Naquin

Jaelin Ramizes Jackson

James Lewis Hodges

Jaron Chase Mcdonald

Jeanette Alexis Longwell

Jeremy Michael Gruver

Johnathan Thomas David Cooper

Jolacia Marie Pounds

Joseph Martin Hawkins

Kaleb Joseph Knapps

Kaleigh Nicole Victoria Melancon

Karanesha L Milton

Kevin Keith Harrington

Kiera Cyan Mizell

Lawford Demango Domineck

Leah Lynnette Dyess

Malcolm Jaray Hall

Malik Aqeel Brown

Markayla Diuana Vallien

Meshaunda Michelle Williams

Michael Gage Caston

Michaela Danielle Beard

Nathan Forrest Quinn

Nolanna Dewuyne Paul

Robert Carroll Southard

Rodney Joseph Taylor

Ryan Taylor Deshazer

Sacarl Demone Taylor

Shawn Thomas Prestwood

Skylar Scott Farris

Taylor Joseph Rodgers

Tiara Bonita Sims

Tranquility Shyvonne Fieldings

Tristan Jeremiah George

Tristin Jacob Johnson

Troyneisha Maurie James

Tytiana K Cryer

Wayneshia Shunice Ennis

William Harrison Bond

Wyatt John Amedee

Zachary Lennon Mundell