ROTC Scholarship: In it for the $ or desire to serve

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by USMAROTCFamily, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I have read many posts here about needing to have the passion to serve as an officer in the Armed Forces if you desire to apply for a ROTC Scholarship. When you enter into this program, of course, you know there will be a military commitment, but I would not take the stance that there must be this calling to the profession in order to be successful.

    I will use my own experience as an example. I needed scholarship money in order to attend college without racking up a bunch of debt. I was a good student, had good test scores, was very athletic and very involved in EC's at my school. Somebody in my school suggested I apply for an Army ROTC scholarship. I had no relatives in the military and no real knowledge about the Army other than what I had seen in the movies. I got the packet of information (pre-internet days), read about the benefits and the service commitment and though, "I can do this." I did have a competitive nature, though, and thought I'd go for it.

    I did get the scholarship, did very well academically, graduated with honors, and even did extremely well in ROTC. I would max my PT tests, was selected for a competitive overseas CTLT slot, got some national ROTC awards, got my top branch choice, graduated as a distinguished military graduate, was commissioned Regular Army and went on active duty immediate to be Cadre at the ROTC Basic Camp at Ft. Knox. Even through all of this, I never considered myself a "Hoo-ah" type of cadet or officer. After officer basic course, I honorable served my active duty assignment, left active duty and fulfilled the rest of my scholarship commitment in the IRR, while I began my civilian career.

    Now grant it, this was almost 30 years ago that I began that journey, but the bottom line is I don't think you must go into this thinking that you absolutely want a "career" in the military. You should know what you are getting into, do the best job that you can, and be willing to fulfill your contract. Many kids begin this journey for the college money, but end up getting so much more out of it. Some people may feel that unless you felt that "being an officer in the military was the only thing that you ever dreamed of", that you don't deserve to get the scholarship and somebody more "committed" should get it, but I disagree.

    I am a proud veteran, who has no regrets what-so-ever that I went the route that I did and feel that I am a better person for it. There are so many positive life skills I learned while in the Army. And I am very pro-military and encourage my kids to consider the military path.
     
  2. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

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    For me, it's just the most convenient way to serve and commission. The money is just a bonus. If they changed the ROTC program so you didn't get any scholarship incentives, I'd still do it.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I certainly agree that you don't have to want to make a career of the military to pursue the scholarship and do well in ROTC and during AD. You definitely acquire useful life skills while in ROTC and the military. NROTC MO has certainly changed my son and how he approaches problems as well as his determination to work hard to succeed.
     
  4. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    Approximately half of West Point grads do their 5 and get out. Many of our Clarkson grads, who on average would have a higher starting salary than a Harvard grad, do their 4 and get out or choose to serve in the Reserve/Guards. No dishonor in serving your obligation and moving on.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am not someone that believes you must have a calling. I believe you need to understand before signing on the dotted line, ROTC and AD are very different worlds. If they think that it is not 24/7 and birthdays, wedding, holidays will be missed over the 4 yrs., please take the time and be realistic if the scholarship is worth the emotional hardship that may occur.

    In my opinion, the military personnel planning knows many will leave after their commitment is up. They plan for it...and when they stay at a higher rate that is when we see RIFs/SERBs occurring.

    The fact is if you serve out your commitment, than every American should say THANK YOU to you. Their decision to serve is a reason we don't need the draft. Their decision is a reason our nation is great and we all can sleep well at night. If it is because they are paying for your education, than so be it! You still stepped up to the table, a table others would not do because in their opinion they would rather be in debt!

    Personally, I think there are just as many tpg's as there are Bullet's. (Bullet entered with the idea of 20). I think the calling comes once in the AD world.
     
  6. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    +1 and the familes too:thumb:
     
  7. T-Bone

    T-Bone Member

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    Pima, please clarify.

     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Your work schedule varies. It is not 8-4 5 days a week per se. If you think that at 4 you can say buh-bye it might not be that way due to an exercise or a hurricane. Mission comes 1st.

    If you think that they can't cancel leave or recall you back, you are wrong. Something comes up, and all bets are off.

    EX:
    Bullet and I were leaving the house for church, kids getting in the car...phone rang and he went back in to answer it. I am sitting in the care with a 4, 2 and 4 mo old, sweating in the car...muttering. He came out 5 mins. later in his uniform and said I have to go to work. (Haiti)

    One sat a.m. in Feb. when we were living in AK, he got a call to go into work. The 90th deployed to Korea for 4 months, 4 days later.

    Leave on both of these examples were cancelled. It was not a M-F work week. It was not 8-4.

    Haiti was 94, Korea was 98. He also did Desert Shield/Storm, Northern Watch, and OIF for months at a clip.
    That is this type of life.

    OBTW, when our eldest, now a 2nd Lt in AF at UPT received his 1sit Communion, Bullet was in Korea (the 4 month deployment). He did not spend 1 Halloween with us between the time our DS2 was 6 months until he was 7. We have spent more Thanksgivings, Christmas and Easter with our AF family than we did with our blood family.

    That is this type of life. My Dad died of Adult Myleonic Leukemia. Bullet made it in 3 days before he died. He was busy in schools.

    This is part of the life. Is it worth it? To me, G yes! But you have to ask yourself if it is worth it to you.

    Just think about it nobody saw 9/11 coming.

    Finally, I don't know what you want to do, but if you want to be tied to the rated AF world, it is not 8-4. Flight days can be 12 hrs. Night flying can mean you work mid-shift. Deployments and you can be working the weekends.

    As far as the 30 days, as a young officer you probably will burn through it, but come sr. Capt./Major you will probably start collecting days. By the time you are O5, you may be like many dealing with use or lose come Sept. When Bullet retired he had 90 days of leave stored up (official date was 9/30).
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  9. T-Bone

    T-Bone Member

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    WOW!! Makes me appreciate the service and sacrifice even more!

    Thanks
     
  10. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    Regarding military "work schedules," I think is really depends on what branch of the military a person is in, as well as their military specialty and if we are at war. There ARE military officers who do work, primarily, standard work days for the most part. There may be times of field exercises where you can be gone for weeks, rotating 24-hour officer-of-the-day shifts, emergencies that require quick call-up........and then there are the deployments, which can vary greatly in length depending on branch of service. I would never want to imply that that somebody in the military ever has a typical civilian-type work schedule, but there really can be quite a variance depending on job function/branch. The last 12 years in the military have been dramatically different, than the previous 12 years. Deployment after deployment has really taken a toll on our service members. I believe if the economy and job prospects had been better, we would have seen more people getting out of the military sooner. Now with the draw down in forces, we will see the attrition.
     
  11. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Not to scare anyone away, but it really does vary. From my youth growing up as a Navy brat...

    Due to my Dad's particular role in the Navy, at one point we moved 13 times in 6 years. That's not a typo. I went to three different kindergartens for example. During this time there were lots of missed special events, holidays, etc while being at sea. And even when stationed ashore there times when it was "12 on - 12 off" for 7 days a week.

    But then later in his career things balanced out and he got some sweetheart assignments including a multi-year gig on the "USS Never Sail". Imagine getting sea pay, etc for being on a ship that stayed tied to the dock 51 weeks a year and being home by 4:00 for dinner every single day. Nice deal, right?

    That's the reality of military life. It can be tough on families sometimes, and other times not so bad at all. Go in with your eyes open, and do some research on roles that typically require more sacrifice/time away if that's important to you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2013
  12. markbrown6

    markbrown6 Member

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    another approach

    Son was offered a scholarship but we were dubious that he really fit that major and line of work. Many friends seemed to twist themselves up to fit into that narrow range of ROTC-funded majors. We convinced him to take a long view of a life of work: what kind of career did he want for the next 20 years? Walking away from the scholarship was not easy, but it made the decision to join the Air Force a cleaner one and he continues with his dream career.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    +1. Before anyone signs on take a longer view, not necessarily saying time warp yourself to the age of 42, (20 yrs in), but time warp to the age of 27.

    I always play a game with those HS SRs that say it will only be 4 yrs in the AF after I graduate to show how off the mark they may be regarding 4 and out the door.

    Take a non-rated AFROTC grad. Commission May 2017. You think May 2021 is the goodbye date.

    1. AFROTC grads don't typically go ADAF for @4-6 months on avg. The clock does not start ticking until they are AD.
    ~~~ Oct 2021 is your get out date.

    2. Attend a career field school that requires a commitment. It will run concurrent, but the clock doesn't start until you graduate from the school. If the school is 6 months long than your date will back up.
    ~~~ April 2022.

    3. Take TA for grad school on base starting May 2018. Every semester you take TA, it runs concurrent with your commitment. Finish in 18 months, @Dec 2020. 75% of college costs is very tempting.
    ~~~ Dec 2023...only 2 yrs more than the original, no biggie.

    4. Original assignment was 3 yrs., April 2021 is PCS time, if you do not take the TA you can 7 day opt. and go non-volunteer to the next base assignment. Problem is it is hard to interview from Germany, Korea or Idaho if you want to go back to NJ. Do you risk the cost of flying back and forth or take the assignment, get your grad degree and hang for 3 more yrs.
    ~~~ Take the PCS it will be 2024. TA payback is no longer an issue.

    5. Now you are nearing 30, married, baby #2 on the way, mtg. and car payments, but still nowhere near the place you want to go back to live for the rest of your life. Can you afford to risk it? This time you work the assignment to get you as close to home as you can believing this is the last PCS.
    ~~~ Now at 2028 when you can leave.

    6. 2026/2027 you meet the O4 board and get promoted. Accept and you owe time again. Don't accept you can leave, but the problem is you have to decide before that now in until 2028 can leave date. You now have 2 kids, mtg., car payments, pre-school pmts., soccer, baseball, TKD ....kids can cost a lot of money. You take it because it is only 3 more yrs., and afterall, it is just one more tour and you had to stay until 2028, plus you will get O4 pay
    ~~~ 2030 is the yr.

    7. As an O4 they offer in resident PME. It is a 1 yr school. Do you take it? If you do, it is a good thing for your resume, but now you owe 3 yrs from graduation of PME and another move. If you don't because you took O4, and your rotation was 2028, you will move again for at least 3 yrs.
    ~~~ 2031 is the date now (no PME in residence), 2033 is your goodbye date with in residence PME.

    8. 2031 BPZ for O5, 2032 IZ for O5. You are now 5 yrs from 50% base pay for the rest of your life. Kids are 8 yrs away from college, making monthly payments for mtg., car, IRA, 529s, paying for travel teams, and again now you are on the opposite coast of where you want to live forever. OBTW housing market crashed, and before you decide you sent out hundreds of resumes, no bites. How deep is your savings? Can you risk that 50% pay when it is so close now?
    ~~~~ You are now in until 2034.

    9. Do you leave at 17 yrs? Or do you take one more assignment?

    Life gets in the way. As you can see, I just took anyone out to the 20 yr marker in rational examples, nothing outrageous like a remote in Korea or the sandbox, nor placed in a 9/11 or stop loss. It was all about choosing between A and B, and how that decision can impact the out the door date.

    LITS is someone that can tell you, he plotted and planned his exit at the 5 yr marker (SA). He also will tell you that he went through a lot of his savings before he got a job in the outside world.

    LITS was a newlywed, and they could survive because he planned it out for several yrs.

    You can absolutely do it, but if you don't have a big picture of the end game, life will get in the way, and 4 yrs can become 20 in a blink of an eye. I can't tell you how many people I know that thought it would have been 4 and done, yet at 20 they are standing at a podium making a speech about how 4 yrs became a career.

    OBTW again, I am using AFROTC as an example. AFROTC and NROTC will go AD, whereas AROTC cadets have Guard and Reserve options. Place that into the equation too.
     
  14. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    When I received my ROTC scholarship it was for pre-physical therapy. I change my major to sociology after the first semester. It had no impact on my scholarship status. I didn't game the system; life just happens. However I see people try to game the system everyday and fail. If you choose a major that doesn't breathe excitement in your life, your GPA will suffer and your happiness will dwindle.
     
  15. bob80q

    bob80q bob80q Banned

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    with the cost of a college education cant blame people for looking at the economics of an ROTC scholarship or FSA nomination, in many cases the only way some can afford it. The DODs own surveys show that only 15% of those applying to the academies do so because they want a military career, the only real draw is getting a free tax payer funded education.
    At the same time, if you make the commitment know what you are getting into and be responsible enough to jump in with both feet. The military is full of bad officers who are lazy, unmotivated or sadly in the case of some academy grads people who think they are gods gift to the service and think everybody owes them a career.
     

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