Army vs. Navy

HS senior USMA

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jul 16, 2008
I am a high school senior who, until a few weeks ago, was seriously considering attending the United States Military Academy and serving as an Army officer. I have not completely abandoned the idea of serving in the Army, however, several occurances have diminished it's luster.

I recently have begun to look into the Navy, and have even considered pursuing an unrelated career, most likely in education. I have been accepted into both Norwich University and VMI, and have received a nomination to go to West Point, however no appointment as of yet. I have several questions that I hope may be resolved. First, are there any advantages to serving in the Navy as opposed to the Army? What is the lifestyle of a Navy officer (deployments, leaves, duties, education opportunities, etc.) How soon must I apply for an NROTC scholarship? Finally, how much leave do VMI cadets receive? Thank you.
I can't answer anything but the question on leave for VMI cadets. We get six days for fall/Thanksgiving break (most state schools give three days for Thanksgiving and a long weekend for fall break; we roll them into one longer break), 2.5-3 weeks for Christmas, and 10 days for spring break. Normally they try to work the dates of spring break so it includes Easter, but my rat year that didn't work out, so we got a restrictions-free three-day furlough if memory serves (and it very well may not! :smile:).

As for leaving on the weekend, this seems to be a lot more restricted than some of the other Academies/SMCs. You have to earn the privilege to leave on the weekend, even if you aren't on confinement. This gets easier the longer you've been there (you get one weekend spring semester of rat year, two the following fall semester, three that spring, etc.) You can also earn weekends through other means, but they're making this harder to do. Also, the term "weekend" is misleading - normally you can't leave until after completion of military duty on Saturday. Some weekends this will be noon, but if there's a home football game, don't plan on leaving until 4pm or later. You also have to return by Taps (11:30pm) on Sunday.

It's hard to get around until you're a First Classman (senior). Even if you've got weekends to burn, you can't have a car in Rockbridge County until your First Class year. That's not to say that underclassman don't risk it, but that's the official rule.

As far as going up town, if you're not on confinement and don't have any classes or military duty, you can leave Post to take care of business or whatever in the afternoon. First Classmen can go up town from completion of supper formation (SRC) until 8:30pm Sunday through Thursday. First and Second Classmen can do it from SRC until Taps (midnight) on Friday nights, and any upperclassman can go out from SRC until Taps (1am) on Saturday night.

As a rat, the only time you'll get off Post is if you go to church, for the most part. If your parents or other relatives live nearby - or if your roommates' parents are really nice! - you can go out to eat with them. Most of the churches in Lexington have Adopt-A-Rat programs that will hook you up with a host family. Normally they'll feed you real food, let you pass out on their couch and take you to Wal-Mart. Other than that, you're pretty well stuck in barracks with no music, no movies and no computer games, countin' down the days as best you can until it's your turn to be an upperclassman and waste valuable study time on some such nonsense. :shake:

Next question? :smile:
Thanks for the input, its definitely helpful to hear from a VMI cadet. I already visited over Christmas break (not a soul there) and I plan to stay overnight sometime soon. As far as going to sea is concerned, I'm not necessarily opposed to it, but I've spent the last several years studing about land-based warfare, and have a decent knowledge base about the Army. I don't know a whole lot about the Navy at all, so I guess I'll have to do more research.
Hey Colvin, for the record: the fact that you're still interested in coming back to visit even after hearing the brutal truth on the lack of freedom we have is a good sign. :smile:

Be sure to shoot me an email or a PM on here before you come. I've been giving tours for a few years. If I can't answer your questions, I can hopefully at least point in the direction of the person who can.

Have you been in contact at all with the AROTC and NROTC departments at VMI, or any other schools you're looking at?