Medical Separation: Deciding Between USMA and ROTC Scholarship - One Additional Consideration

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
Over the years I’ve read many posts by students considering an academy appointment vrsus an ROTC scholarship. I’m offering this narrative as one point of consideration to help students who are undecided on whether to accept an academy appointment, specifically USMA, or to choose the ROTC scholarship option.

While the vast majority of cadets will thankfully never face a medical disqualification, a few of them will given that the list of potential medical disqualifications barring commissioning is very long and given the end of recent conflicts, the enforcement of standards is becoming more strict. Given recent posts on this forum and in other social media platforms, this possibility of being separated in the senior year for a medical disqualification is becoming increasingly common at West Point. My cadet’s experience may provide insight. Despite several congressional inquiries, legal assistance, and civilian medical evaluations supporting medical stability and testimonials from former cadets with the same medical condition who under previous West Point commands and at other service academies (as recent as May of 2021) were allowed to graduate and commission, the West Point administration is separating my medically disqualified senior cadet (who was told they would probably be separated with four days of the initial diagnosis and then summarily ordered off post within two weeks). This is despite having completed all summer military training with only two semesters of academic coursework not completed, leaving the academic future in limbo.

I’ve spoken to many West Point classmates and many other graduates of other service academies as well as active and retired members of the military. To a person, the consensus is that senior (Firstie) cadets who are medically disqualified but medically stable should be allowed to graduate. Graduation of senior cadets given a medical disqualification was not uncommon in the past. The USMA Superintendent has in fact the full authority under Army Regulation 150-1 to graduate medically disqualified seniors. This has been confirmed by the USMA command. For the last few years, however, I had been hearing rumors that there would no longer be “golden handshakes” which, as far as I can gather, is defined as allowing cadets to graduate from USMA given a medical disqualification which bars commissioning. The policy of separating medically disqualified senior cadets seems to have reached a certain level of public notoriety including the West Point Board of Visitors. Disenrollment of seniors due to medical disqualification was mentioned at the last meeting of the West Point Board of Visitors in December of 2020. From the minutes of that meeting (https://tinyurl.com/hj8664zd, p. 8), it is recorded that LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster asked the question as to whether the current medical waiver process at West Point was, “meeting the standards and not excluding people that may deserve a waiver.” The answer provided unfortunately was vague.

Four years ago my cadet had the choice between USMA and a ROTC scholarship which one university combined into an offer of a four year full room, board and tuition scholarship. West Point was chosen. Now in retrospect, given a medical disqualification discovered in the senior year and separation from West Point without any aid or assistance in transferring, with competitive universities advising that placement in their programs would occur somewhere early in the junior year, the choice is questionable. The placement by other competitive universities is unfortunate but understandable. Despite majoring in a STEM field, West Point places many of the major courses into the senior year (with military and PE course frontloaded). Had the ROTC scholarship been taken and a civilian university attended, dismissal from the ROTC program would have still been the result given the medical disqualification but completing the university degree would have been independent of the ROTC enrollment.

Again, just one cadet’s story who made the choice to attend USMA versus accept a “full-ride” ROTC scholarship. The categorical stance against allowing medically disqualified seniors to graduate may just be related to West Point given the example provided of a senior with the same medical disqualification being allowed to graduate (and commission) at another service academy just this last May. I hope this long narrative helps inform the decision of graduating high school students. You are welcome to make posts in response to this narrative, but I won’t be adding additional detail (e.g. the disqualifying medical condition other than we did not have advance knowledge of this condition before it surfaced, etc.).
 

justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
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Apr 9, 2017
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6,061
So sorry to read this. And it’s a great point about The ROTC route. There are always pluses and minuses in each choice! And this is a consideration for sure. Especially with benefit of ‘looking back’. Which, unfortunately, we don’t have at the time of making a decision. About our future.

Wish him good luck. He is fantastically gifted person to have earned an appointment. And made it through WP to date!

Life is NOT fair. And that stinks. Seriously. I hope you all get through this with as much peace as possible. And that he finds his jam soon.

I say often, but it’s so true, that someday this will be a story on the journey of where he ends up. A memory. And that place will be amazing!! Hang in there.
 

txfwindian

Parent of USNA C/O 2025
Joined
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Messages
1,182
Dear OP,
Our wishes to your DS in his future endeavors.

I have read that in similar cases ( medical disqualification) but at USNA that the MID is allowed to graduate but not commission.
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
Thank you! That's my understanding of what is happening at USNA & USAFA as well. As mentioned, someone with the same condition as my cadet and diagnosed even earlier at another service academy was allowed to graduate and commission in May.

Unfortunately, we know of several recent cases at West Point where possibly medically disqualified seniors are immediately removed from the installation after the initial diagnosis. Seems to be the command's standard operating procedure for such cases. One was from my cadet's own high school. I've tried to understand how not allowing seniors who are barred from commissioning but only have a few months left to graduate makes financial sense after taxpayers have already invested several years in their education. They should be given the option to graduate and then work for the federal government to pay back their obligation.
 

txfwindian

Parent of USNA C/O 2025
Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Messages
1,182
In case of your DS, has he been asked to repay financial obligation? Understandable if you prefer not to answer.
 

MidCakePa

DD Oorah! / DS Hooah!
Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
4,107
They should be given the option to graduate and then work for the federal government to pay back their obligation.
This seems like a win-win solution that gives the cadet/mid an honorable way to pay back the SA experience. I wonder why it’s not implemented. Seems very much in the spirit of SAs, i.e. college for service.
 

MullenLE

A GUY WITH "INTRICATE KNOWLEGE" OF DODMERB
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Having been assigned at WP/KACH from 1982-1986, I saw a few folks go both ways, after injury or diagnosis. The most profound was a team, cyclist, who ran into loose gravel out by Buckner...lost control...camed down vertically on a guard rail abuctment ...even though a helmet was used, still required a crainiotomy. Had significant effects. Was ermitted to graduate, but not commission. Don't know what the link was, but Malcolm Forbes offreed her a position in NYC after graduation. Having been assigned @ USAFA for the past 30 years, seen both here, also, though I'm removed from most of the direct details here.

Based on your post, I'm "presuming" it was a condition, not an injury, and the onset occurred "at" WP...versus Exisited Prior to Admission?
 

GWU PNS

George Washington University Capital Battalion
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Messages
507
Cadets and midshipmen who are separated for medical reasons are not asked to repay, as it is not their fault, to the best of my knowledge.
In the case of Midshipmen, and I "suspect" cadets as well, if the underlying medical condition which winds up being a disqualifier was newly discovered while on scholarship, or had been fully disclosed prior to scholarship and accepted and waivered, then it is correct that there would not be a requirement to repay. There is one caveat to this......the medical condition should not have come about due to other misconduct. As an example.....a Midshipmen who drives under the influence and has a bad accident, injures himself/herself to the point of being medically disqualified, that would require a PRB and disciplinary action separate from the medical determination. And the chances would be better than not that recoupment would be asked for. But recoupment decisions are made at the ASN level and take a lot of research.
 

Classof83

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Messages
167
That's a remarkable story. Fortunate ending. Sounds like people stepped up.

Yes, it was a condition that was a sudden onset at West Point. Thankfully, now remarkably stable. We are very fortunate.

I'm just surprised at how these cases are currently being handled at WP. I know personally of many cases that were handled differently as recently as under the previous command. In our case, we even had personal testimonials from grads from this time with the same condition who were allowed to graduate and commission. One, who had the same diagnosis, wrote in a letter on our behalf to the USMA Superintendent that as a cadet, "fully participated in all activities, including Sandhurst competition, and never required accommodation." Given the written evaluations from our civilian medical specialists, our MOCs (one senator in particular) have also been astonished by the lack of flexibility by the command. The senator's staff also provided amazing support and we are grateful.

WP 82-86 - I'm sure we know a lot of the same people. I imagine you've seen it all in all those years.
 

Classof83

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Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
This seems like a win-win solution that gives the cadet/mid an honorable way to pay back the SA experience. I wonder why it’s not implemented. Seems very much in the spirit of SAs, i.e. college for service.
Especially as the academic major was one that has many national defense applications and only offered by a few (two or three) other institutions at the bachelor's level. This is another reason why we assumed the command would look favorably on the request to graduate. The pledge to "serve" in a federal agency was made in the requests for reinstatement. An offer to apply for a cross commission to another service was also made. Unfortunately, as noted in the question by LTG (Ret) McMaster at the last WP BOV meeting, immediately removing possibly medically disqualified cadets from the installation hampers their chances of continuing on to graduation and seeking a waiver.
 

DrMom

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I am so sorry to hear about this for your cadet.
I know of two recent cadets who graduated and did not commission due to medical reasons in both May 2021 and December 2021. So, it is still happening. Not sure why the sudden change for your child.
 

Classof83

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Messages
167
I am so sorry to hear about this for your cadet.
I know of two recent cadets who graduated and did not commission due to medical reasons in both May 2021 and December 2021. So, it is still happening. Not sure why the sudden change for your child.

Thanks. Yes, my cadet personally knows at least one cadet each from the May and December graduations for the 2021 class as well who were medically disqualified but allowed to graduate ("the USMA Superintendent has the authority...") but several more in her class who have been separated given a medical disqualification. Medical separation without the chance of waiver seems to be common enough to have merited mention in the last BOV meeting. Obviously, I'm not clear on why the disparate treatment and the only case in which I know all the details is my cadet's, but I do know that in the recent past and at other service academies, cadets with the same diagnosis were allowed to graduate and commission.

Thankfully, those who are medically disqualified but allowed to graduate don't have to start (somewhere back) at another university.
 

Herman_Snerd

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Messages
850
@Classof83
Very sorry to hear of such an abrupt ending of your cadet's journey at WP and presumably for military service. I want to say thank you for sharing your experience as food for thought for others who evaluate the different paths.
For ROTC path, if a mid/ cadet opts to get lasik surgery or has a mechanical injury while not participating in ROTC like a pickup football game etc., they have to sign a waiver saying if anything goes wrong they will pay the entire scholarship back. With Lasik, due to the window of eyes continuing to mature that surgery often is in their junior or summer before senior year. ROTC participants also pay out of pocket for this elective procedure while SA participants have it done for free. Overall, my perception until your note was that the SA participants had an advantage and would have been taken care of had a medical issue arose. But cutting them loose so unceremoniously, not even finishing the semester seems short sighted. So your post I believe will be helpful to many now or in future years who may find it.

I also agree that finishing at-least the current semester vs the relatively swift boot off campus would seem fair. The cadet and WP both invest in this relationship quite a bit, so why not bring it to a more amicable even if not ideal resolution.
I know so little about WP processes but is there a way to have a voice at these board meetings or a public forum with the leaders? If so why wouldn't they offer something like this - you can finish 1 or 2 semesters at WP and then you will need to stay on and serve at WP as an instructor for 2 years or whatever, and then we'll hand you a bachelors degree - a win-win compromise?
Or, here is a bill for your last semester and if you pay it you can stay on? Maybe there is a path to share your voice about the process - certainly sounds like you did all you could to advocate for your child while this was being considered, but maybe you could help others too. what you are saying is resonating with me as goodness - good luck to you.

The only encouragement I can offer is that truly your young adult will not be fully starting over. They will have a college transcript with 3.5 years of courses from West Point that can be applied toward a transfer to one of the other select schools that offer this major. He/ she/ they should talk to each of the other programs and see how much they can transfer in. I'm sure this is all pretty dizzying but I would also look to see what options exist to take courses this spring elsewhere to stay on the graduation path - as you described this may take an extra semester or two so I'd want to get back on the horse as quickly as possible - one of my kid's schools starts up again tomorrow, so your child could perhaps remain an active student for the spring term elsewhere if so desired. Or find a school with trimesters that may start in a few weeks. Who wouldn't welcome a WP "honorable" transfer like your child.

With spring and summer work and a couple more semesters your child may have a path to graduate with their specialized major and a minor in military science. Good luck.
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
@Classof83
Very sorry to hear of such an abrupt ending of your cadet's journey at WP and presumably for military service. I want to say thank you for sharing your experience as food for thought for others who evaluate the different paths.
For ROTC path, if a mid/ cadet opts to get lasik surgery or has a mechanical injury while not participating in ROTC like a pickup football game etc., they have to sign a waiver saying if anything goes wrong they will pay the entire scholarship back. With Lasik, due to the window of eyes continuing to mature that surgery often is in their junior or summer before senior year. ROTC participants also pay out of pocket for this elective procedure while SA participants have it done for free. Overall, my perception until your note was that the SA participants had an advantage and would have been taken care of had a medical issue arose. But cutting them loose so unceremoniously, not even finishing the semester seems short sighted. So your post I believe will be helpful to many now or in future years who may find it.

I also agree that finishing at-least the current semester vs the relatively swift boot off campus would seem fair. The cadet and WP both invest in this relationship quite a bit, so why not bring it to a more amicable even if not ideal resolution.
I know so little about WP processes but is there a way to have a voice at these board meetings or a public forum with the leaders? If so why wouldn't they offer something like this - you can finish 1 or 2 semesters at WP and then you will need to stay on and serve at WP as an instructor for 2 years or whatever, and then we'll hand you a bachelors degree - a win-win compromise?
Or, here is a bill for your last semester and if you pay it you can stay on? Maybe there is a path to share your voice about the process - certainly sounds like you did all you could to advocate for your child while this was being considered, but maybe you could help others too. what you are saying is resonating with me as goodness - good luck to you.

The only encouragement I can offer is that truly your young adult will not be fully starting over. They will have a college transcript with 3.5 years of courses from West Point that can be applied toward a transfer to one of the other select schools that offer this major. He/ she/ they should talk to each of the other programs and see how much they can transfer in. I'm sure this is all pretty dizzying but I would also look to see what options exist to take courses this spring elsewhere to stay on the graduation path - as you described this may take an extra semester or two so I'd want to get back on the horse as quickly as possible - one of my kid's schools starts up again tomorrow, so your child could perhaps remain an active student for the spring term elsewhere if so desired. Or find a school with trimesters that may start in a few weeks. Who wouldn't welcome a WP "honorable" transfer like your child.

With spring and summer work and a couple more semesters your child may have a path to graduate with their specialized major and a minor in military science. Good luck.

Thanks for your words of encouragement.We were incredulous at how fast WP moved to remove our cadet from campus. We countered with immediate civilian medical evidence from board certified specialists that all the possible tasks, academic and physical, of the academic year were not an issue given the medical condition. This was not accepted. Now undergoing the MEB/PEB medical separation process from the Army. This process will probably end around when graduation would have occurred. I'm not clear why it was not possible to allow continuation in the academic program while this process was ongoing.

After the removal from campus, my cadet immediately reached out to the academic department for assistance. It was confirmed by the academic department that only a few universities offered the major at the bachelor's level. This was the extent of the assistance offered by the department. Even requested help from the WP registrars office went unanswered. That's one of the points I am trying to make. There is no mechanism in place for academic assistance for medically separated seniors. Had our cadet been in an ROTC program at a university, continuation academically would not be one of the current challenges being faced.
 

USMAGRAD1988

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2019
Messages
138
Over the years I’ve read many posts by students considering an academy appointment vrsus an ROTC scholarship. I’m offering this narrative as one point of consideration to help students who are undecided on whether to accept an academy appointment, specifically USMA, or to choose the ROTC scholarship option.

While the vast majority of cadets will thankfully never face a medical disqualification, a few of them will given that the list of potential medical disqualifications barring commissioning is very long and given the end of recent conflicts, the enforcement of standards is becoming more strict. Given recent posts on this forum and in other social media platforms, this possibility of being separated in the senior year for a medical disqualification is becoming increasingly common at West Point. My cadet’s experience may provide insight. Despite several congressional inquiries, legal assistance, and civilian medical evaluations supporting medical stability and testimonials from former cadets with the same medical condition who under previous West Point commands and at other service academies (as recent as May of 2021) were allowed to graduate and commission, the West Point administration is separating my medically disqualified senior cadet (who was told they would probably be separated with four days of the initial diagnosis and then summarily ordered off post within two weeks). This is despite having completed all summer military training with only two semesters of academic coursework not completed, leaving the academic future in limbo.

I’ve spoken to many West Point classmates and many other graduates of other service academies as well as active and retired members of the military. To a person, the consensus is that senior (Firstie) cadets who are medically disqualified but medically stable should be allowed to graduate. Graduation of senior cadets given a medical disqualification was not uncommon in the past. The USMA Superintendent has in fact the full authority under Army Regulation 150-1 to graduate medically disqualified seniors. This has been confirmed by the USMA command. For the last few years, however, I had been hearing rumors that there would no longer be “golden handshakes” which, as far as I can gather, is defined as allowing cadets to graduate from USMA given a medical disqualification which bars commissioning. The policy of separating medically disqualified senior cadets seems to have reached a certain level of public notoriety including the West Point Board of Visitors. Disenrollment of seniors due to medical disqualification was mentioned at the last meeting of the West Point Board of Visitors in December of 2020. From the minutes of that meeting (https://tinyurl.com/hj8664zd, p. 8), it is recorded that LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster asked the question as to whether the current medical waiver process at West Point was, “meeting the standards and not excluding people that may deserve a waiver.” The answer provided unfortunately was vague.

Four years ago my cadet had the choice between USMA and a ROTC scholarship which one university combined into an offer of a four year full room, board and tuition scholarship. West Point was chosen. Now in retrospect, given a medical disqualification discovered in the senior year and separation from West Point without any aid or assistance in transferring, with competitive universities advising that placement in their programs would occur somewhere early in the junior year, the choice is questionable. The placement by other competitive universities is unfortunate but understandable. Despite majoring in a STEM field, West Point places many of the major courses into the senior year (with military and PE course frontloaded). Had the ROTC scholarship been taken and a civilian university attended, dismissal from the ROTC program would have still been the result given the medical disqualification but completing the university degree would have been independent of the ROTC enrollment.

Again, just one cadet’s story who made the choice to attend USMA versus accept a “full-ride” ROTC scholarship. The categorical stance against allowing medically disqualified seniors to graduate may just be related to West Point given the example provided of a senior with the same medical disqualification being allowed to graduate (and commission) at another service academy just this last May. I hope this long narrative helps inform the decision of graduating high school students. You are welcome to make posts in response to this narrative, but I won’t be adding additional detail (e.g. the disqualifying medical condition other than we did not have advance knowledge of this condition before it surfaced, etc.).
@Classof83,
Thanks for this post. Wow, I am completely miffed to learn this is going on at West Point. I currently have a DS who is Class of 2024 at West Point. His younger brother has been accepted to USMA with the Class of 2026, however, he is struggling to make a decision between attending West Point or attending a civilian engineering program on an Army ROTC scholarship. He has made his list of pros and cons for each institution, but there doesn't seem to be a "decisive" conclusion for one school over the other. He has visited both campuses and likes them equally. The situation your cadet has gone through is not a scenario we had thought of and one I will certainly mention to him so he can add to his lists of pros and cons. Thank you for taking the time to post this important information. It may just be the deciding factor for my DS. I wish your former cadet the best for the future. No doubt he/she will land in the right place and finish a degree.
 

Capt MJ

Formerly Known As Attila The Hunnette
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Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
15,083
I was saddened to read this, as it seems like a relatively abrupt departure from customary practice. It’s one thing if a clear change had been announced, starting with incoming Class X, noting that the Superintendent’s discretion would only be rarely used in these cases, but this just seems arbitrary.

It makes me wonder if Big Army routinely med-separates pre-comm and boot camp folks expeditiously, and someone decided no more sweetheart deals for those special people at WP - this is pure speculation, only because I have seen my share of tunnel-vision decision-making roll down the hill in my direction often enough.

I do think some degree of quality outplacement academic support would be appropriate.

Thoughts for this cadet:
- If the idea of govt service appeals, all the big departments and agencies (the “ABCs”) have college student programs, summer internships, etc. Just google things like “FBI college student programs.” The Pathways program is targeted to new college grads, when he gets there. The extra amount of time to complete the BS degree may be a blessing that allows him to explore these options.
- Though he won’t qualify for federal VA educational benefits (but confirm this), each state has its own veterans’ program and benefits. He may be eligible, due to his 3+ years of AD, which will all be documented on his DD-214, the standard military separation form. A very important document - do not lose. Go to your state.gov website and look for terms such as “veterans affairs,” “veterans agency,” etc. There will also likely to be offices he can go to for VSO (Veteran Service Officer) counseling. It’s all in how the state defines “veteran” for its own programs. It’s always worth researching home state programs. Veteran organizations such as DAV, VFW, AL, AMVETS, etc. also have VA-certified VSOs. These are wonderful volunteers.

I also extend sympathies on the sadness that will likely accompany whatever USMA wants him to do with his class ring. That’s a hard rock to get over.

I hope this door-slamming experience leads to an array of stunningly brilliant open windows gleaming with opportunity and fulfillment.
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
@Classof83,
Thanks for this post. Wow, I am completely miffed to learn this is going on at West Point. I currently have a DS who is Class of 2024 at West Point. His younger brother has been accepted to USMA with the Class of 2026, however, he is struggling to make a decision between attending West Point or attending a civilian engineering program on an Army ROTC scholarship. He has made his list of pros and cons for each institution, but there doesn't seem to be a "decisive" conclusion for one school over the other. He has visited both campuses and likes them equally. The situation your cadet has gone through is not a scenario we had thought of and one I will certainly mention to him so he can add to his lists of pros and cons. Thank you for taking the time to post this important information. It may just be the deciding factor for my DS. I wish your former cadet the best for the future. No doubt he/she will land in the right place and finish a degree.
Thanks USMAGRAD88. Congratulations on the success of your DS and his brother.

That's the sad part about this - there doesn't seem to be any empathy and understanding that when USMA is chosen, much was probably given up. We obviously never envisioned this scenario as well. I do explicitly remember hearing from my cadet that the phrase "No more golden handshakes" was being used increasingly by the command. One of my cadet's friends who graduated in August heard the commandant reiterate the command's stance on "no golden handshakes." For the life of me, I can't understand this. Are they trying to deter cadets from using a medical excuse to get out of their service obligation and holding the risk of losing graduation as the incentive not to try it? Is it really a choice a cadet has? It took an ICU admission for my cadet to realize the problem had surfaced and we've fought like hell to get reinstatement for graduation and commissioning, cross-commissioning, or commitment to serve with a federal agency. My cadet was not trying to get out of anything. No one ever communicated with my cadet along the lines of, "Look, we realize you've been dealt a heavy blow with the sudden onset of this medical condition. We thank you for stepping up to serve your country and while commissioning isn't a possibility given your condition with the Army now (although we pointed out many times to the command that commissioning had just occurred at another service academy in May and at West Point a couple of years ago for this very diagnosis), here is the reason why our stance is not to allow you to graduate (we've never been given a reason) and here is the assistance we'd like to provide you to help you transition to another selective university (no assistance offered)." Instead, my firstie cadet was told almost immediately after the diagnosis that separation would occur almost immediately and in fact was told to leave post within a matter of a few weeks of the diagnosis. The reason can't be the expense to the government - my cadet is seeing civilian medical providers now given the active duty status just as if had stayed at West Point and seen providers off of post given the lack of specialists at Keller.

As I mentioned in my first post, the chance of a disqualifying condition cropping up the last year is probably small. But it happens. In the past, as I (and probably you as well) know, firsties were allowed to graduate under these circumstances (I know several as does my cadet's older sibling who is also a grad). I don't know where the sudden change comes from to end (to use what I think is a derogatory term) "golden handshakes," but I think it is wrong and short-sighted (as does every other "old" grad that I have spoken with - some have even called it an outrage). I don't doubt that my cadet will land on both feet, but I think that West Point has lost out from adding an outstanding graduate to its ranks. In my view, other service academies and ROTC programs just moved up as alternatives.
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
I was saddened to read this, as it seems like a relatively abrupt departure from customary practice. It’s one thing if a clear change had been announced, starting with incoming Class X, noting that the Superintendent’s discretion would only be rarely used in these cases, but this just seems arbitrary.

It makes me wonder if Big Army routinely med-separates pre-comm and boot camp folks expeditiously, and someone decided no more sweetheart deals for those special people at WP - this is pure speculation, only because I have seen my share of tunnel-vision decision-making roll down the hill in my direction often enough.

I do think some degree of quality outplacement academic support would be appropriate.

Thoughts for this cadet:
- If the idea of govt service appeals, all the big departments and agencies (the “ABCs”) have college student programs, summer internships, etc. Just google things like “FBI college student programs.” The Pathways program is targeted to new college grads, when he gets there. The extra amount of time to complete the BS degree may be a blessing that allows him to explore these options.
- Though he won’t qualify for federal VA educational benefits (but confirm this), each state has its own veterans’ program and benefits. He may be eligible, due to his 3+ years of AD, which will all be documented on his DD-214, the standard military separation form. A very important document - do not lose. Go to your state.gov website and look for terms such as “veterans affairs,” “veterans agency,” etc. There will also likely to be offices he can go to for VSO (Veteran Service Officer) counseling. It’s all in how the state defines “veteran” for its own programs. It’s always worth researching home state programs. Veteran organizations such as DAV, VFW, AL, AMVETS, etc. also have VA-certified VSOs. These are wonderful volunteers.

I also extend sympathies on the sadness that will likely accompany whatever USMA wants him to do with his class ring. That’s a hard rock to get over.

I hope this door-slamming experience leads to an array of stunningly brilliant open windows gleaming with opportunity and fulfillment.
Capt MJ, great advice. Given the fight to be reinstated, the MEB/PEB process, inquiries at competitive universities to which to transfer, and dealing with the disappointment of my cadet's dream ending seemingly right before the finish line, all of our time and energy has been expended in that direction. Now it is time to move on. We'll certainly try to take advantage of the VA resources available (although it does seem to be quite confusing). I think a knowledgeable VSO is our next step.

Never mind the class ring - we are being met with confusion at all levels on how to recoup the money spent on that!
 
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