Posted on Jan 4, 2019
PV2(P) Ting-Yu C.
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I am currently serving in the Ohio Army National Guard. I am also participating as a freshman (MS-1) in the ROTC program at my university. The cadre plan to contract me next year as an SMP cadet. I understand that if I were offered a GRFD scholarship, and I were to accept it, I would essentially eliminate all possibilities of going active duty. My main question is: should I accept such a scholarship and use the benefits while in college, or would the benefits of Active Duty outweigh the GRFD scholarship benefits?

Here is some additional information that may be of some value in the decision making process:
In the future, I will be pursuing a career in the FBI or CIA as a field agent. I think that a big plus for me when being considered for such a position would be my language skills. I lived in China and Taiwan for more than 12 years and can communicate in Chinese relatively fluently. I am also well versed in Chinese culture.

Based on this career choice, would it be important for me to get some Active Duty time in? Or would it be more likely that the FBI or CIA would offer me a position, regardless of my military experience?
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WO1 Mobility Officer
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PV2 Chiu,

The FBI has a special agent entry program for candidates that possess language proficiency like you. The qualifications that relate to your decision are: Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four year college and Have worked as a professional for at least three years. The CIA has the Bachelor’s degree requirement only but with a 3.0 GPA.

If the scholarahip will help you complete college with no debt and enable you to focus on your studies then that is an important consideration.

Since you need three years of professional experience for the FBI the question becomes: does active duty military service fulfill that qualifiaction or give you an advantage over civilian professional employment? According to the FBI they have a veteran preference and military skills are valued. I think the benefits of the scholarship and broad employment options available in the civilian job market outweigh forgoing the scholarship. If you want to serve active duty you can volunteer for a deployment in the guard.

Here is a link to contact the FBI recruiter in your area: https://www.fbijobs.gov/career-paths/special-agents/find-recruiter I suggest having a conversation with a recruiter to get the best advice. The CIA doesn’t have recruiting process like the FBI but you should review their website.
Good luck!
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COL Jon Thompson
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As an ROTC ROO at a program that has a heavy National Guard presence, I deal with this all the time. When I talk to prospects like you, my first question is what are your professional goals? Secondly, how are you paying for college? Unless you are struggling to pay for college, I would recommend competing for active duty with a goal of branching Military Intelligence. Since you are in the Guard, you would have a 3-year commitment to active duty which would meet the professional work requirements to apply for the FBI. You can also use your Reserve GI Bill and any state tuition assistance the Guard offers. So I think that going active duty would be the best option for your future profession, especially doing it full time as an MI officer. However, if paying for college is your biggest concern, than you cannot beat the scholarship. However, if you accept a GRFD scholarship that is more than 2 years, you lose your Reserve GI Bill benefits which equate to about $750/month. You also have an 8-year Guard commitment (no IRR time). So you would have to see how that would impact your potential to serve in Federal law enforcement or at a 3-letter agency. There is no way that doing a job as a Lieutenant in the Guard gives you the same experience as doing it full time on active duty. Again, unless you are struggling on figuring out how to pay for college, I would recommend going active duty. It makes the most sense for your professional goals both in skills acquired and timing. Message me directly if you have specific questions.
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PV2(P) Ting-Yu C.
PV2(P) Ting-Yu C.
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Yes, I am not currently struggling to pay for college. The Ohio National Guard pays 100% of my tuition, my college offered me enough scholarships to cover my housing, and I pocket the Pell Grant and my monthly drill pay and GI Bill. So, no I am not in any dire need of cash to pay for college.
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COL Dana Hampton
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From
What you’ve stated, it seems to me that GRFD contract is the way to go. But keep in mind both civilian career paths you’ve mentioned are very incompatible with Reserve service. Once completing training with the FBI or CIA YOU will be stationed littlerally anywhere in the world and, every few years, be transferred to a new location. Changing units stateside is fairly common (with its own challenges), but when assigned overseas, making drills and annual training will be complicated at best or impossible altogether. Years ago the FBI used to require agents to resign their commission to accept a position with them. I don’t know if that’s still the case.

I recommend you do some more homework on the career paths your considering and really judge how they may impact you chosen civilian career path.
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PV2(P) Ting-Yu C.
PV2(P) Ting-Yu C.
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Just for your information, I did some quick research, and the FBI supposedly "prefers" applicants to resign their commissions before going to the academy. But I also came across a few sources stating that it is decided on a case-by-case basis.
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