This was originally published March 29th, 2017 in the Belle Banner, in Belle, Missouri
This week we are revisiting Jane Doe. When we left her she had been in the army about a year, she was a PFC (Private First Class), Human Resource Specialist, working in the S1 section of a Brigade Headquarters in the 82nd Airborne Division. Jane had completed one semester of college, ran out of money, and joined the Army primarily for the GI Bill benefit. When we left her she had settled into her job and was planning to start taking evening college classes and classes online.
Now it is another year, Jane is Specialist Jane Doe and she has discovered something. She likes the Army. She likes the security, and she likes the not worrying about making a living, and she likes what she does in the Army, but she is not complacent, she wants more. Jane’s take home pay is now a little over $900.00 twice a month ($1,800 per month). Jane is a smart person and she knows that she can perform at a much higher level than where she is now. Being a Human Resource Specialist, (they used to be called personnel clerks), it is Jane’s job to know the system, and about the time we left Jane, she discovered an army secret. It is not really a secret, but it is not advertised outside the Army. She discovered the “Green to Gold” program. The Green to Gold program has three ways to apply, but basically it is a program where a young soldier has accumulated enough semester hours that they can complete a bachelor’s degree in 4 semesters (21 months), they apply for the program and if accepted they are released from active duty to complete their bachelor’s degree, take ROTC, get commissioned and return to active duty as an officer.
For the past year, Jane has been taking two 3 semester hour evening classes each week with Campbell University’s eight week semesters on Fort Bragg. She had to miss one semester because of a long field exercise, but she completed 24 semester hours, in class and 6 hours online, and CLEP tested (College Level Examination Program) for another 3 hours. With her one semester of college before enlisting, she now has a total of 45 semester hours. Her goal is to have 75 semester hours when she reaches three years in service. She has studied the three ways to apply for the Green to Gold program. First, she has to be accepted by the college, and the ROTC department at the college. The first way would be to apply for an ROTC scholarship, if approved, she would be released from active duty, the scholarship would pay tuition and fees, and she would receive her GI bill benefits and the monthly ROTC payment. The second option is to apply for the non-scholarship green to gold program, which means she would be released from active duty, and would use her GI bill to attend school. She would also receive the ROTC payment. But Jane is going to apply for the “active duty option” of the Green to Gold program. Under the active duty option she would be released (or assigned) to go to college, but she would still be on active duty, drawing full pay and allowances, which for her would mean losing $150 per month jump pay, but gaining about $1,000 per month basic allowance for housing, and $368 per month for meals. So she would be taking home about $3,000 per month from the Army, and the GI Bill would pay her tuition at the school. With that option, she would still be on active duty, so if she had any health problems, or pay issues she could go to the nearest Army post, which would be her support post, for help. Plus when she goes over three years in service she will be qualified for the full Post 911 GI Bill, which would pay for her full tuition and fees. She wouldn’t receive the housing allowance from VA because she would be drawing that from the Army.
Specialist Jane Doe also knows that the active duty option is very competitive. A soldier has to prove that they are officer material. She has been preparing herself throughout the year. Her college GPA is 3.8 and she intends to keep it there or higher, and she had an ACT score of 25 in high school, which still counts. So academically she thinks she will be OK. The Army now puts great value on physical fitness and marksmanship. She has been doing extra pushups and situps for the past year, she is now at 36 pushups in 2 minutes and 72 situps in 2 minutes, and she can run 2 miles in less than 15 minutes, which gives her a score of 280 of a possible 300 on the PT test. Every time a company in the Brigade goes for weapons qualification, she asks to go with them. She has fired on the record range six times in the past year and the last time she hit 40 of 40 targets. She is preparing to compete for Brigade Soldier of the quarter. In that competition she will have a PT test, fire on the range, ruck march, and demonstrate various soldier skills, then appear before a formal board in the Brigade Support Battalion, if she wins there she would compete against other battalion soldiers of the quarter at the Brigade board. Having been a soldier of the quarter will be an asset to her Green to Gold application.
Specialist Jane Doe demonstrates officer qualities, she is smart, articulate, courteous, and she is neat and has good posture (military bearing). She is cheerful and always volunteers to help with anything extra. She has become an asset to her bosses, and is known to the Colonel (Brigade Commander), and the Command Sergeant Major as one who can be counted on to participate in anything extra. She has become an avid handball player and one day a week, at lunch time, she plays handball with her boss, the new Brigade S1, Major Elizabeth Brown. For those who don’t know, that is American handball, not team handball. It is played in a racquetball court, 40’ x 20’ with 20’ walls and a ceiling (a box). It is a small hard rubber ball and players wear a small, snug fitting glove. The server bounces the ball off the end wall and the receiver tries to return it before it crosses the center line. It is fast, intense and exhausting. A 30 minute game usually leaves players worn out and drenched in sweat. She is also accomplishing some politicking with the first field grade officer in her chain of command.
Specialist Jane Doe has a goal, and that is to be commissioned in the Adjutant General’s Corps, then stay in the Army as an officer.