FORT JACKSON -- A high draft number kept Scott Hess out of the Vietnam-era Army as a young man and putting on a military uniform was the farthest thing from his mind as he trained to become a respiratory therapist and later, high school science teacher in Utah. So it was a shock during a three-day session here with Army officials and recruiters when he realized he might have gotten his science-based education by becoming a soldier. "It really hit me. I realized I could have done a lot of what I did through the military," said Hess, 58, now chief of the U.S. Department of Education's College and Career Transitions Branch Division in Washington. "I'd never considered joining up," said Hess, who at the time lived outside Salt Lake City. "A lot of us thought then that if you went to Vietnam, you'd get killed. We didn't connect the military then with any kind of career opportunities." Making that connection is exactly what the Army wants educators and high school career counselors to do. Despite the pressure of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has filled its recruiting quotas this year in large part due to the slumping economy. But it is still looks to fill jobs in high-tech fields such as computer and information sciences, health, medical and foreign languages fields. So it has taken up an idea by Ray Davis from South Carolina's Education Department to bring the military together with and educators who are career specialists. "I think some students are neglecting to examine viable career options that exist in the military, where the training is superb," said Davis, who acknowledged that oftentimes parents are more skeptical about sending their children off to the service than their teens may be. "Parents are questioning guidance counselors more and more closely about post-secondary options regarding the military," said Davis. His plan for the conference gives those counselors and teachers, many of whom never served themselves, an option to learn what happens on a military installation. Over three days, Davis and about 150 teachers, counselors and career advisers got a bird's eye view of Army life and the jobs held by men and women in uniform. The costs for the three days was covered by the Army, and the educators got continuing education credits for attending, he said. The group heard from an Army panel of soldiers: a military lawyer, a journalist, a policewoman, a pharmacist and a flute player with the Army band. They toured the Army's school for vehicle mechanics and heard a presentation from a Marine who called himself a "postal warrior" who trains soldiers to deliver mail on the battlefield and for top-secret military operations around the world. They watched as male and female recruits rappelled the 50-foot steel "Victory Tower," part of a confidence and team-building exercise. Several attendees said they thought the program was helpful, particularly those who never served themselves. "We have so many kids asking us about joining the military," said Sara Orlowski, 59, a career specialist at Hartsville High school in northeastern South Carolina. "Now, I feel I can give them some concrete answers about some of the questions they might have." Orlowski said she meets with parents and students to help the youngsters decide on a career path so they can plan what courses they will take as they move through middle and high school. And learning more about the Army won't turn her into a substitute military recruiter, Orlowski said. "We're not recruiting for the military, we're recruiting the best information we can get so our kids get the best education they can get," said Orlowski, who also teaches financial skills to ninth graders in her school of 1,300 students. Art teacher Roxanne Kingsland, 48, from Broome High School near Spartanburg, said she opted to come "because I was very curious" about career options the Army might present. "We have so many kids without any parental support, without the financial wherewithal to afford any college or even technical education," she said. "I care about my students and I want them to have every opportunity to be the best they can." She has a student who cooks and brings treats into the school for her to taste, and she has been urging the student to become a chef. After the conference, she thinks the student could look into getting culinary training in the Army. "Honestly, this child needs something better than a part-time job at a video game store," she said. There are those who think the Army's approach is an end-run around parents and look askance at the military getting so much time with teachers. Sally Ferrell, a Quaker activist who has fought for the right to counter-recruit in North Carolina high schools, said she understands that high school students are eager for information about job opportunities, particularly in rural areas such as her Wilkes County where the economy remains tough and unemployment is high. "The military looks very tempting, but kids should know there are other options in areas that would build up societies, not destroy them," said Ferrell. The 65-year-old, who works as a mediation specialist and conflict resolution for the local court system, said she has worked out an agreement by which she can meet with students if they ask to get information about her approach, and military recruiters must get a similar invitation from a student as well. "The students need to know there are alternatives to the military," she said. Department of Education official Hess said the South Carolina program is being evaluated to see whether it could be replicated in other states. While many Army installations hold daylong tours for teachers or local community leaders to explain what happens on their posts, the South Carolina conference was geared for teachers and counselors who are part of programs to help students evaluate their career options. "I've been very impressed," Hess said, saying the training dovetails with what is needed to compete in the current tough job market. "They are teaching kids the soft skills, the things employers tell us they want: responsibility, character, learning to show up on time and get a job done. Those are hard things to learn in college, but they are things the military works really hard to instill," Hess said.