CONCORD, N.C. (WJZY) — Students at Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord got a chance on Monday to experience what it was like to be a U.S. Navy Seal. The United States Navy brought their virtual reality 18-wheeler to school to give them an up-close look and to help with their recruitment efforts.  

“Most kids today they play video games, they’re always on their phone so this is more a hand-eye coordination opportunity, so they do really well with this,” said CPO Latonya Perossier with the U.S. Navy.  

Using virtual reality is a useful tool to pique interest and one that’s needed. The Navy announced last month they fell well short of the 2023 fiscal year recruitment goals.   

The Navy, like most other branches, is still struggling to match numbers they put up pre-pandemic when access to students was easier. 

“We were on football fields we did big career, field day events. (It was) easy access in terms of we were here, the public was open there wasn’t a concern at the time,” said NCC Brian Baldwin with the U.S. Navy.  

Monday marked the first big recruitment event like this for the Navy at the high school. 

Another sign that schools are still working their way back from the impacts of the pandemic.   

“It’s been a challenge, after the pandemic it was kind of rough that first year getting that social back. Getting kids to understand and talk to each other and be a little more social and getting kids back in the building, but over the past 2 years it’s been pretty good,” said Principal Dennis Hobbs.  

And as things return to normal, recruiters believe their numbers will too. Despite being short of their goals, NCC. Baldwin says enlistments have grown steadily from 2021 into 2023. 

“We’re absolutely accomplishing higher numbers and we’re on course this year to do even better than last,” said NCC. Baldwin.  

A huge part of that success comes from interactions like these. A little bit of fun, paired with a chance for these kids to learn about scholarship opportunities and all the different jobs the navy provides.