Machinery Technician Petty Officer First Class Michael Madden did not start his career path in the U.S. military, but he is happy with the direction it has taken him.

“I was working construction living at home and wanted something better,” he said. “The Coast Guard allowed me to gain work experience, attain my bachelor’s degree in environmental science and buy my first house after only being in for three years.”

Madden recently met with the Utah Military Academy’s Raider Military Fitness Team and the Marksmanship Team to share his experience in the Coast Guard and discuss the benefits of military service.

“Most high school kids think if they join the military their life will be over and they will not have freedoms,” he said. “Partnerships [like this] will allow an actual discussion to happen to put applicants fears to rest.”

Angi Snyder, athletic director of Utah Military Academy Camp Williams, said Madden was very interactive with the cadets during the leadership program, which was facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement. He was able to present information about the Coast Guard that is not normally conveyed, she said.

“[The Coast Guard] doesn’t get a lot of representation, and they are a really good option for students that want to be part of the military. Sports teams and shooting are available through the Coast Guard and that was a big draw [for our students],” Snyder said. “One cadet who has already signed with the USMC asked about the possibility of joining the Coast Guard after his time with the Marines.”

Madden shared that the opportunities in the Coast Guard are outstanding and wouldn’t be possible without integration and diversity allowing for various viewpoints.

“The Coast Guard is the only branch that gives you more freedoms when picking a career field. This will allow an applicant to have ownership in their career and more likely to stay in,” Madden said, adding that he puts interested students and cadets in touch with his previous recruits to have another voice to hear and relate to when making their decision about joining the Coast Guard.

Snyder also noted the importance of partnerships between the U.S. military and high school institutions, coming from a military family herself.

“My dad, uncles and grandpa all served in the military,” she said. “It has given our family a unique perspective and sense of patriotism and pride other families don’t have.”