HomeCherry Hill NewsMilledge makes the most of her military journey

Milledge makes the most of her military journey

Navy recruiting specialist operates out of Cherry Hill.

Petty Officer Second Class Johnisha Milledge, who was inducted into the Navy in Cherry Hill and works out of the township’s Navy Recruiting Station, poses in front of a vintage recruitment photo at Navy Talent Acquisition Group offices in Northeast Philadelphia on March 3.

Like thousands of high school graduates before her, Petty Officer Second Class Johnisha Milledge was expected to move on to higher education in pursuit of a career. 

But Milledge has instead found a purpose beyond the classroom — ironically enough back inside classrooms — as a recruiter for the United States Navy based in Cherry Hill. 

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“I went to college for one year and then I (just thought I really didn’t want to go) and I don’t really know what I wanted to go for,” she said during a March 3 conversation at Navy Talent Acquisition Group offices in Northeast Philadelphia.

Milledge is a Millville native and 2014 graduate of Millville Senior High who also was a competitor for the Miss Holly City crown that year. But she had bigger ambitions in mind.  

“I just wanted to travel the world and do something different with my life,” she recalled. “So, it was either the Marines or the Navy. And in doing my own research, the Marines had a far more intense boot camp, so I thought I’d go with the Navy.”

Having been familiar with Cherry Hill for her whole life because “they had the better mall,” Milledge said it was a natural choice to enlist there. 

“I actually joined the Navy in 2015 through the Cherry Hill office,” she said. “I was ‘depped out’ (placed in the Delayed Enlistment Program) and shipped out from that office, and now I’m back working in the Cherry Hill office.”

Milledge’s family wasn’t thrilled with her decision at first, but they warmed to the idea once she convinced them the military wasn’t the antiquated institution they might remember from previous generations. 

After boot camp, she spent time in Pensacola, Florida, and Virginia Beach, before heading back to the area last August to take her recruiting post. 

“Each recruiter, depending on the area, has 10 to 15 different schools,” she explained of her recruiting efforts. “I just go to these schools day by day. If any students want to talk, I pull them out of class. If their parents want to talk to me, I’ll go to their house, or they’ll come to the office and I’ll talk about what the Navy has to offer.

“A lot of people do come to us out of high school too, but our main target is high school, seniors mostly if they don’t know what they want to do. I give school presentations, I do assemblies, I do a little bit of everything.” 

Milledge also happened to run across a Cherry Hill High School East student with ambitions to attend Annapolis next year. Kurt Comber, who was profiled in the Sun in December, came through the local recruitment office while making his decision. 

“I remember Kurt,” Milledge noted. “I was working with him. I remember him from a long time ago. He’s in now. I remember how he was really excited when he came into the office.”

In addition to her interaction with high-school students, Milledge also travels to Naval institutions. Last month, she talked about hypothetical command qualities as part of a training exercise during an Intermediate Leader Development Course (ILDC) at the Navy Operational Support Center in New Castle, Delaware.

Although she’s unsure where life will lead once her contract is completed, Milledge recognizes the value of the military to provide a solid foundation before bigger career decisions are necessary.

“A lot of people give the military a bad rap — not just the Navy but all branches in general,” she admitted. “I like being able to talk to students and tell my story and say to them that college is not always the answer.

“I got to travel the world, I got to have fun, I got to meet friends, and experience life before I went and sat down and said ‘ok, I want to get a degree in this.’ And it’s free, so that’s a plus.”

BOB HERPEN
BOB HERPEN
Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.
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