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A Lin-ear path to the military


One day after finishing the Army Reserve contract paperwork, senior Ivan Lin poses with Army Reserve Recruiter Sgt. Donghye Shin in front of the Army Career Center in Rowland Heights. “I felt really excited and relieved that I finished all the paperwork,” Lin said.

One phone call can change your life. For senior Ivan Lin, that phone call was from Sgt. Donghye Shin, who recruited Lin to join the United States (U.S.) Army Reserve in late 2020. 

After fulfilling the necessary three-step recruitment process, Lin was sworn into the U.S. Army Reserve as an Army Cook Feb. 25, 2021. 

“All my friends and family were happy that I joined The Army, and they were very supportive,” Lin said. “I was pretty excited about joining The Army, but I am a bit afraid of what is going to happen during basic training and job training in July this year.” 

As an Army Cook, Lin has to prepare the meals for hundreds of people in an army base located in Riverside. He currently works part time with the Army Reserve for one weekend every month, and he will begin working full time for a month during the summer. 

“I feel like being an army cook will be fun and exciting, because I always wanted to learn how to cook,” Lin said. “I think that being a cook will not be as stressful as someone who will fight on the front lines.” 

In order to become an Army Cook, Lin had to go through a lengthy recruitment process with his recruiter, Sgt. Shin. The process was split up into three steps: fill out medical forms, take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and complete a physical exam. He passed the ASVAB, a military aptitude test, with a score of 85, allowing him the ability to choose the Army Cook position. 

“I had to take the ASVAB to see what job I could get, which was very frustrating, because it was like another standardized test I had to take,” Lin said. “I was really surprised that I scored an 85 on the ASVAB, because I heard that only 99 people took the test that day and they scale your score based on your rank out of those 99.” 

After undergoing the recruitment process and getting sworn in, Lin signed a contract with the U.S. Army Reserve, pledging his service for the next six years on active duty and for the two years following on inactive duty, which is no work unless summoned by the president. Lin plans on serving only one year as an Army Cook and will open himself up for different positions for the last five years of his contract. 

“For the last five years of my active duty, I want to do something mechanical, because I really like hands-on work, such as fixing helicopters,” Lin said. “For my two years on inactive duty, I was planning on going out of the country for school, if possible.” 

After fulfilling his contract, Lin will receive a $7000 bonus, a Montgomery GI Bill Selective Reserve benefit and a $30,000 student loan repayment. During his time on the Army Cooking staff, Lin will be paid $231.08 every shift he works. 

“I think this was a great opportunity for me, because I didn’t know how I would pay for college. [The Army] would be a good backup plan if I don’t do too well in college,” Lin said. “I can just join the Army as active duty so I can support my family.”

By Jacob Khuu, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Ivan Lin