This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle, Missouri, March 15th 2017. The dates for the scholarship application window may have changed by a day or two, but everything else is still current. Pay has increased.
HIGH SCHOOL RISING SENIORS, scholarship application time starts in June after your junior year. The window for applying for an Army Four Year ROTC Scholarship is June 12th to January 10th of your senior year. The earlier you apply, the better your chance of being offered a scholarship. ROTC is Reserve Officer Training Corps. An Army Four Year Scholarship pays; full tuition and fees, plus $1,200 per year for books, plus a monthly payment for the 10 months of the school year of, $300 for freshmen, $350 for sophomores, $450 for juniors, and $500 for seniors. The payback is eight years in the National Guard or Reserves, or four years active duty, and four years inactive reserve. The requirements are; Be a United States Citizen, Be between the ages of 17 and 26, Have a high school diploma, (you can still start applying at the start of your senior year). Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher (it needs to be in the neighborhood of 3.5), score at least a 19 on the ACT, but you’re not really competitive until you score in the neighborhood of 24, Be medically qualified through DODMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) (i.e., your physical exam and medical history is accepted by the Department of Defense), and be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test. The Army wants a scholar, an athlete, and a leader. Your GPA should be above a 3.0, 3.5 is better, and you should be in the top 20 % of your class, top 10% is better, score a 24 or higher on the ACT. You should have “lettered” in a sport, individual or team competition. You should have held a leadership position, i.e., elected class officer, FFA officer, FBLA officer, or some activity in which you were in a leadership position. Letters of recommendation from teachers, your preacher, and nonrelated members of the community attesting to your character your attitude, and leadership ability all help.
You can start the application online, however if you are serious, I recommend that you first visit the Army ROTC department at the school you want to attend. Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T), at Rolla, has an outstanding Army ROTC program, and it has degree programs other than engineering. MS&T has a top business program, plus English, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and History.
The Army is not as concerned with what degree you have, but that you have a bachelor’s degree. Some branches are degree specific, such as Medical Corps, Nurse Corps, Veterinary Corps, and Chaplains Corps. The Corps of Engineers likes engineers, Civil Engineers in the Army move beyond combat engineers to districts supervising the nation’s waterways. I have seen many Mechanical Engineers serve successfully in combat engineers. Some have served a full career and retired as Lieutenant Colonels and full Colonels. The Infantry actually likes history majors, especially military history. MS&T, in my opinion, is one of the top schools in the country for studying military history. Dr. John C. McManus, at MS&T, is an internationally recognized expert in U.S. military history. He has been designated a “Curators Professor”, which is the highest, and most prestigious rank awarded to a professor, by the University of Missouri, Board of Curators. His class sizes in military history and political science max out at about 19 – 20 students per class. In past years, during the summer months, he has taken students to different battle fields, all over the world. He has researched and written 12 books on military history.
ROTC is another college class, it is a four year program, and it is two parts, the basic course, which is the first two years and the advanced course in the last two years. Non-scholarship students may take every class in the first two years without any commitment to the Army. All taking the advanced course contract with the Army prior to starting their junior year. Scholarship students contract with the Army when they accept the scholarship. Four year scholarships are offered to high school students. Three year and two year scholarships are offered to those already in college. ROTC classes are an exciting break from other college classes. During the basic first two years you become acquainted with the Army, you learn not only the basics of military courtesy and drill but you will have some fun adventures like rappelling and rifle marksmanship. The ROTC student becomes part of a close knit campus organization, which is not associated with any academic discipline, but can help academically, if necessary. My last job in the Army was NCOIC (Noncommissioned Officer in Charge) of the Army ROTC Department at MS&T (then UMR). I was once tasked with writing a study guide, for the ROTC students, on “How to Study”. Advanced ROTC students study leadership in more depth, plus they serve in leadership positions in the ROTC Cadet Battalion and they attend a four week leadership camp between their junior and senior years. When the ROTC student receives a bachelor’s degree, and has completed the ROTC program, he or she is commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army.
Second Lieutenants are promoted to First Lieutenant at 18 months time in service, and they are promoted to Captain at about four years in service. Industry seeks out former army officers. Those who have been in combat arms or combat support units have “people leading” experience, plus the experience of managing large volumes of equipment and material. In Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Combat Engineers, Air Defense Artillery, Transportation, and Quartermaster a normal tour for an officer would start as a Platoon Leader of a 30 to 40 person platoon for probably six to nine months. Then if he or she is performing well, he may be moved to a more advanced (complicated) platoon for another six to nine months. By that time the officer is a First Lieutenant and may move to a staff job at battalion level, or may become a Company Executive Officer (XO) for about a year or more. There is one XO in each company, and he or she is directly responsible for all administration, logistics and maintenance in the company, plus the XO commands the company, if the commander is not present. Some very good officers actually get to command company’s before they make captain. Companies vary in size from around 130 people to around 250.
The combat maneuver officer branches in the Army are; Infantry, Armor, and Aviation, combat fires branches are Artillery and Air Defense Artillery, maneuver support branches are Combat Engineers, Chemical Corps, and Military Police Corps, special operations branches are Special Forces, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs Corps, operations support branches are Signal Corps, Cyber Corps (new) and Military Intelligence Corps, force sustainment branches are Transportation Corps, Ordnance Corps, Quartermaster Corps, Adjutant General’s Corps (Human Resources), Finance Corps, Medical Corps (Doctors), Army Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, Veterinary Corps, Medical Service Corps, Army Medical Specialist Corps, Chaplains Corps, and Judge Advocate Generals Corps (Lawyers).
The Army lives by seven core values, Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Officers live by those values and enforce them. I saw a captain company commander relieved (fired) because he didn’t tell his boss (battalion commander) the whole truth about why a sergeant was removed from contact with ROTC cadets, in basic camp. When the colonel discovered the facts, the captain was fired. I heard the guest speaker at an Engineer Basic Officer Leaders class give four thoughts of advice, to the new lieutenants. First, when in charge, take charge, don’t abdicate you’re responsibility. Second, make it happen, if a job or mission appears too difficult, figure out how to get it done. Third, do the right thing, you wear the uniform, the Army values are your values, and finally, have fun, have some recreation away from the job, for you to relax and recharge.
If an officer stays on active duty past his or her initial commitment, at about four years service, they are reassigned back to their branch school for the Captains Career Course. The course is about six months long, and teaches how to be a company commander, and how to work as a staff officer. Then the captain has about six years before being considered for promotion to major, that usually means two assignments, one in a unit commanding a company and working on staff, and another such as ROTC duty, a special assignment, or going to grad school. The Army encourages captains to get a masters degree. Sometimes the Army gives the captain the time to go to grad school, and sometimes the Army will send captains to grad school. An Army Captain, over four, makes about $100,000 a year. Monthly pay is; $5,398.20 base pay, $253.63 for meals (nontaxable), and an average of about $1,400 per month Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) (nontaxable). That is about $85,000 per year, plus completely free, zero-deductible medical care for the captain and family, plus the nontaxable benefit, a civilian would have to be approaching six figures to equal a captains pay.
Whether an officer goes on active duty or to the National Guard or Reserves, almost every field of industry looks at that individual as having had training and experience beyond that of his or her peers.