Navy offers a paid year before serving Recruits can attend college and get a check for 4- to 6-year commitment

By SUSANNA RAY

Herald Writer

The Navy announced a new recruiting program Wednesday that allows people to sign up and then go to school for a year – while getting Navy pay and benefits – before actually having to work.

"Wow, that’s incredible," said Dr. Judy Opp, who is in charge of the Everett Navy College Office.

The Navy just approved the funding for the program Tuesday, said Cmdr. Steve Lowry, spokesman for the nation’s Navy Recruiting Command based in Tennessee. Enthusiasm was running high as the word spread.

"I’ve got a 21-year-old son that I’m going to call tonight and say, ‘You ought to check into this,’" Lowry said.

The program, called the College Assistance/Student Headstart Program, or CASH, will allow qualified applicants to enlist in the Navy and then receive regular paychecks and benefits, such as medical and dental insurance for themselves and their families, for up to a year while they attend college.

The catch is that they have to commit to four to six years with the Navy immediately following that year, and they have to take an algebra course.

CASH will be perfect for students facing a money crunch in their last year of college, Opp said, and it will give "that hunger for learning" to recent high school graduates who aren’t yet sure what they want to do.

Capt. Kim Buike, the commanding officer of Everett Naval Station, agreed.

"If we can get people interested in education early on, then there’s a good chance that they’ll like it and they’ll want to pursue it while they’re on active duty," Buike said. "And we have the programs for them to do that."

Navy sailors can take classes from schools that run extension programs on the base, through Opp’s department, and the Navy even flies teachers out to ships when they’re on deployment to the Persian Gulf or other places.

Encouraging sailors to take advantage of those opportunities has long been a priority for Buike. When told of the new program Wednesday, he said it would help with recruiting new sailors and keeping sailors in the Navy, which has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

"Maybe they’ll say, ‘Hey, the Navy did this for me,’" Buike said. "And that will engender enough loyalty that they’ll forgo the big salaries offered outside the big gate and want to stay around for a while."

For more information, call 1-800-USA-NAVY or visit www.navyjobs.com.

The Navy also announced on Wednesday an increase in enlistment bonuses for the summer. For example, a person entering the nuclear field can receive a $12,000 bonus instead of $8,000. Also, there’s a new bonus available of up to $20,000 to those with college experience.

You can call Herald Writer Susanna Ray at 425-339-3439or send e-mail to

ray@heraldnet.com.

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