Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seniors should think about ROTC

In today’s time, simply having a high school diploma on your resume is not going to attract employers if you are looking for a job that can be called a career. Even college graduates are having a difficult time finding work in this down economy.  So here’s a viable option; join the military.

Being a member in the United States Armed Forces is one of the most patriotic things a person can do.  The military provides opportunities for service members to travel the world and exposing them to different cultures; provides medical and dental benefits; provides a steady pay check; develops young boys and girls into disciplined men and women this society so desperately needs; and get this, provides tons of college benefits.

Most people know about the Post 911 G.I. Bill benefits service members are entitled to, but that is only one of the many educational benefits the military provides.   Programs such as Tuition Assistance (T/A), STA-21 (The Navy Enlisted to Officer Program), Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECEP), Meritorious Commissioning Program (MCP), Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP), and Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and many more are available.

I knew I wanted to be a Marine since I was a young boy, but I didn’t know there was a difference between being enlisted and being an officer.  I just knew there was something about the Corps that I loved and I knew I wanted to be apart of.  What I didn’t know is that I could have gone to college after graduating high school on a full scholarship by applying for ROTC. 

Please understand that there is a difference between going to boot camp with the desire of becoming an enlisted Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine and applying for the ROTC scholarship with the aspiration of becoming an officer in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps. 

The process is simple, but there is a lot of paperwork involved.  Students need to ensure they have a pretty high GPA, be able to gain acceptance into college, score above 1050 on the SAT, or score above 22 (Math & English) on the ACT, be physical and mental healthy, participated in sports, involved in civil/community service and be a good student overall to be competitive for the scholarship. You then need to decide if you want to be a leader of the finest young men and women on this planet, the enlisted service member.  If your heart says yes, now all you have to do is decide which branch of service you want to join.

This decision has to be solely the desire of the individual person applying, not the desire of parents, teachers, or friends.  Parents and teachers do a marvelous job of giving students the proper guidance and direction they need in order to make good decisions, but students need to do what they want to do with their lives. 

A few weeks ago, I had a young man in my office who was awarded the NROTC scholarship as a Marine option to attend the University of South Florida here in sunny Tampa, Fl.  We were about 2 hours prior to leaving for incoming student orientation and he decides that he doesn’t want to participate.  Myself, as well as several staff members talked with the young man about his decision and he explained to us that the only reason he applied for the program was because that’s what his mom and dad wanted him to do. I was blown away that this kid would go through the entire scholarship process and then walk away from it on day one without even trying.

I know tons of applicants that applied for the program and didn’t get accepted and would trade places with him in a heart beat, but he didn’t have it in his heart to go through with it.  I asked him a simple question, “Do you want to be a leader of Marines?” He said no Sir I don’t, I just want to be a regular college student.

I told him to call his mom and notify her of the decision.  His mother, a former Marine Corporal and single parent was devastated because she knows that her son is walking away from a fully paid scholarship.  After an hour or two of her crying, pleading and begging, her son walked away from an opportunity of a lifetime.  To his credit, he finally made a decision that would make him happy, but I still question why it took him so long to speak for himself. 

Moral of the story, don’t apply if your heart isn’t in the right place no matter who is pressuring you.  However; do the research and find out if you have what it takes to be in a program that has so much to offer.  You can go to college, earn a degree, and walk right into a well paying job while serving your country as a military officer.

There are many institutions of higher learning all over the country to choose from and here are the schools in the great state of Georgia that participates in ROTC.

Navy and Marine ROTC         
Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Southern Polytechnic, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, Spelman, Savannah State, Armstrong Atlantic State

Augusta State, Columbus State, Ft. Valley State, Albany State, Georgia Tech, Agnes Scott, Emory, Kennesaw State, Southern Polytechnic State, Georgia Military, Mercer, Georgia Southern, Armstrong Atlantic State, Savannah State, Georgia State, Clark Atlanta, Clayton State, Morehouse, Spelman, North Georgia College, & UGA

Air Force ROTC
UGA, Georgia Tech, & Valdosta State

I chose to go the boot camp route and I absolutely love being an enlisted Marine. I’m taking full advantage of the T/A program to fund my education and the door is wide open for those that will put forth the effort.  I understand that everybody is not cut out for military service, but for those who are thinking about serving, this information is for you.

The time is here for high school seniors to apply, so don’t hesitate.  If anyone has any questions about applying for ROTC, please contact me and I will be happy to assist in any way I can. 

Here’s a little disclaimer for those that didn’t know; I am very pro Marine Corps because that’s the way of life I’ve lived for the last 14 years, but every branch has plenty to offer! God bless and Semper Fidelis.
Originally published by the Charlton County Herald on August 31, 2010

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