Posted on Dec 29, 2020
Malachi Kirkpatrick
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Rally Point Community,

I have a question regarding the best post-bachelors degree route for a person interested in serving. I have considered serving in the past. But, I decided to finish my bachelor's degree first. I've seen posts on here from several years ago, and I apologize if this is redundant. I figure standards adjust annually. I did not realize GPA was so important. I had a 2.0 when I graduated on December 12th, 2020. I am 26 years old.

For context, I had a challenging family issue to resolve and worked for two and a half years before returning to finish. I received A's/ B's once I returned. Would this context matter to a recruiter? Does anyone in the community have any recommendations or advice? I want to serve and experience the good and the bad. Build my leadership, communications, and other skills. The branch doesn't matter to me as long as I can achieve and become better than I am today. Given all of the above, do I have options, or should I just remain a civilian?

Thanks for any help,

Malachi Kirkpatrick
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LTC Jason Mackay
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Edited 10 mo ago
Malachi Kirkpatrick Provided you are medically, morally, and physically qualified, here are my recommendations that are Army centric. I will allow others from other branches to chime in on their branch:
- 26, sheesh, still young. Plenty of time to enter service and "get somewhere". You need to pay attention to age cutoffs for commissioning which last check, without AD time waiver, is 34.
- You need to pick RC or AD right off the bat. Otherwise it is not something you can change your mind about until your current contract is up. There are some very specific, lesser included cases, but to summarize, all are a pain in the a$$ to do.
- You could technically go enlisted first, then seek a commission, but my concern would be aging out of commissioning. If you enlist, get promoted and become a technical expert in a field, competing for appointment as a warrant office could be your thing.
- ARNG or USAR (RC): if you are looking to serve locally and do not really want to do this as a primary career, you can enlist or seek a commission (officer) in the reserve component RC. The advantage in the USAR is you are federal, which is important as an officer. There will be a tug of war between your personal/professional life and military duties and advancement. All in all, doable, as many do it for 20-40 years.
- Active Duty: this is an all in thing. You could enlist or you could seek a commission. Enlisted: step 1 walk into the recruiter and see what your options are. Take the ASVAB. This will put you in boots fastest. Waiting on a specific MOS may take longer. While technically possible, it is more difficult to compete for OCS from AD than to compete as a civilian applicant. Either route will look at your GPA. Not impossible, just hard.

Routes to a commission:
- Do a masters degree and do the abbreviated version of ROTC. This is all in and you'll have to contract at the jump.
- Apply for State or Federal OCS, federal would be best as you are federally recognized off the bat. State OCS is for ARNG. Federal is either USAR or AD, although I have seen ARNG candidates go this route.
- Get ordained. Seek a direct commission as a Chaplain
- Go to law school and pass the bar. Seek direct commission as an Army Judge Advocate (Lawyer)
- If you have a Cyber security background, I think Army Cyber is still looking at Direct Commissions for those with commercial experience. I am out of my depth with this one.
- I read yesterday that Medical Service Corps 70 series officers are no longer being direct commissioned. Seek out an AMEDD recruiter to get the double truth - Ruth. NOT the home town recruiter.
- The ship has sailed for service academies....although there could be a loop hole for Kings Point if you desire to be a Mariner.

Most of the "leadership" civilian industry is looking for is NCO (Sergeants) and Company Grade leadership (Warrants, Lieutenants and Captains). Field Grade leadership (Colonels and Majors) tend to get people stirred up and not in a good way. Believe it or not people get pissed when you tear apart their "strategic plan" which is little more than a laundry list and some window dressing.

What field interests you?
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CWO3 Us Marine
CWO3 (Join to see)
10 mo
Good scoop Colonel. The lone BS grad I enlisted was in a financial bind, college debt, wife and child. He needed a job and fairly quick. He near aced the ASVAB, and the dependents waiver was a rubber stamp, especially with a STEM degree. Got him an Avionics contract and a guaranteed stripe after Boot, due to college. He didn't have a year to mess with direct Commissioning OCS, but showed interest in maybe later. Needs - satisfaction sales.
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MAJ Anne McGee
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You have many choices for service, Active Duty, Reserves and National Guard. The easiset to get into will likely be the National Guard, if they have open slots. You need to pick a Branch and have an idea of where your interests lie. Being more Army centric, these are the requirements for OCS as a civilian, https://tinyurl.com/y8mnnjg9. :
Must be:
A U.S. citizen
A college graduate with at least a four-year degree
Between 19 and 32 years old (you must enter active duty or ship to training by your 33rd birthday and accept commission prior to age 34)
Eligible for a secret security clearance

My advice is pick your first and second choice for Branch and decide if you want Active Duty or Reserves, then go talk to an officer recruiter.

The military is not the only place to "serve". Being a good citizen and becoming involved in your community to make it a better place for all citizens is a service to our country. Become a community leader who speaks the truth and shows compassion for others - that is service!

Good luck and God bless!
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Lt Col Jim Coe
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I see three paths you might take: Active Duty, Reserve Component (Reserve or National Guard), or civilian employee. Here's my thoughts.

Each of the 6 Armed Services (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force) post requirements to be an officer on their web site. You must be a US Citizen. You'll have to pass a physical (waivers to some medical conditions are possible). You'll have to test to evaluate many things including general math, language, and other factors. Minimum scores to be an officer apply. All Services currently require a bachelor's degree. There is an age limit. I think it's 39. Pay and benefits are also described on the web sites. Pay for each pay grade is the same in all the services. You will also earn 30 days paid leave each year. Do the research.

Active duty means you are an Officer of the United States, 24 X 7 X 365. You work every day at your assigned duties for the US military. You will be trained for the duties you are expected to accomplish. First, you'll attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) to learn basic military leadership and management. Next you will usually attend a specialty school based on the job the Service wants you to do. Examples include Supply Officer School, Maintenance Officer School, Infantry Officer Basic Leadership Course, and hundreds more. You'll then be assigned to a job in a unit to start your career.

Reserve Component Duty is similar to active duty, but you will be expected to work as an Officer of the United States part-time. You will go through much of the same training as an active duty officer. After training you will be assigned to a Reserve or National Guard unit. Reserve Component units train (also known as "drill") once a month on a weekend and for about two weeks a year. Most private and public sector employers support their employees who are in the Reserve Component. They often grant special "military leave" for the drill and two-week training. Reserve component units may be called to active duty for many reasons including overseas deployments to combat or non-combat locations, response to natural disasters (Guard Units), support in the US during National Emergencies. The good news is a Reserve Component position allows you to also have a civilian career and generally more stable family life.

Civilian employees of the Department of Defense and the Services fill thousands of types of jobs in the US and overseas. Civilian Employees provide all manner of Service and Support jobs. They can be employees in almost every military specialty except direct combat roles. USAJobs.com is the gateway to civilian employment.

I strongly recommend you talk to recruiters from each of the 6 Armed Services, the Army, Navy, and Air Force Reserve, and the Army and Air National Guard. (That's about 11 different recruiters.) Be sure to research each Service's requirements before you meet with any recruiter. DO NOT volunteer to enlist immediately. Hold out for the opportunity to be an officer. Waiting a year or so to go to OCS is much better than a 4-year enlistment and still not being able to get into OCS. My guess is at least one and maybe several will offer you the opportunity to be an officer. Evaluate the offers in light of your personal goals. Consider the accession date, the training offered, the final job placement, and the mid-term opportunities for assignment and advancement (you'll be agreeing to serve for 4 to 10 years depending on your specialty and training).
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Lt Col Jim Coe
Lt Col Jim Coe
10 mo
At least one person in the string commented that you might want to consider being a military aviator. Please check the physical requirements for entering aviation training on Service web sites. I see you wear glasses, so I'm guessing you don't have 20/20 vision. 20/20 was required for pilot training, but that can be waivered sometimes if you have 20/40 correctable to 20/20. Non-pilot aviators may get by with 20/40. If you want to fly, consider the Air Force first then Army Aviation Warrant Officer.
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