Posted on Dec 26, 2018
SSG Ground Recon Team Sergeant
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I recently earned a Bachelors degree and since it has become public knowledge I've had alot of Officers ask me if I have considered commissioning. Previously I hadn't given it much thought but now that it is a possibility and am at least going to entertain the idea.

I'm interested in personal experiences from men and women who were enlisted and decided to go officer. Information on OCS as well as Direct Commission. Any advice, guidance or personal stories would be appreciated.

Bonus info would be how going from enlisted to officer could help or hinder any goals I may have to join Special Forces if I choose to go that way as well.

Thanks ahead of time!
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Responses: 94
COL Mikel J. Burroughs
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SSG (Join to see) Great question and congratulations on getting your Bachelors Degree. I was actually attending college when I went through OCS as an SSG/E-6 and I had 9 years enlisted service under my belt. The OCS experience was tremendous in my opinion, but since you've got your Bachelors Degree you can always apply for direct commission to the Officer Corp. It just depends on your reason for wanting to go over the the "Dark Side" (Just kidding by the way). I wanted to, because I saw officers that weren't do the job and I wanted to get in there and make a difference and the other reason is because I had a mentor (an officer) that I respected and he really convince me that I should go for it and I did. After 37 years of total service (9 enlisted and 28 commissioned) I have no regrets and I can say that I did make a difference. Do you want to make a difference Cory?
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COL Brian Shea
COL Brian Shea
11 mo
Wow. For COL Burroughs experience all I can say is: Ditto. I had just a little more time on the commissioned side, and went the Direct Commission route at opposed to OCS. At the time the only difference between the two applications was the cover letter stating which route you wanted to go. One bonus in going the DC route is, unless things have changed, you get commissioned into your current field, and usually need to have a slot in a unit ahead of time. As I understand OCS you can request a branch (top 3 choices) but it falls to the "needs of the Army" as to where you go. I had a somewhat unusual experience, staying in the same unit and even same platoon when I was commissioned, going from a squad leader to platoon leader. Thankfully I had a very good platoon sergeant. Like COL Burroughs I have no regrets. Although the transition can be a bit intimidating I recall looking to my left and right and knowing I could do at least as good a job as some of those currently in the rank. Actually that same approach applied to every promotion I received, enlisted and commissioned. Just understand that your Bachelor's Degree will only be the start of your formal education. On the up side, if you graduate from Army War College they will award you a Master of Strategic Studies which has pretty universal application, both in the military and civilian worlds. Congrats on your degree, and best of luck whatever you decide. Enlisted or Commissioned, you are a Soldier - be proud of that. The only downside I will mention is that as you progress in rank it will be more challenging to stay in touch with the rank and file troops. It can be done though. And your enlisted experience will give you a great leg up in that regard, as well as several others. Some officers may say they would never order a Soldier to do something that they wouldn't do. You can say you wouldn't order a Soldier to do something that you haven't done. There is a difference.
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1LT George Aggott
1LT George Aggott
10 mo
I am glad that I got my Commission through OCS rather than ROTC. I did graduate from College, enlisted, and was trained as a Combat Engineer before OCS. Although my enlisted time was rather short, it did make me appreciate the experience of being enlisted first before being commission as an officer. KP, Guard duty, training etc etc. OCS did change me and gave me the attitude, skills, and success as a leader while serving and then again in civilian life. Unless things have changed, and perhaps they have since the 40 plus years ago when I was commissioned, being an officer did not restrict which goals you might want to set for yourself as an officer. OCS at Fort Benning was not a picnic by any means. Only 96 of us graduated of 229 who started. I am betting that OCS has changed some since the late 60s and early 70s. But you should indeed look into going.
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CW3 Infantryman
CW3 (Join to see)
9 mo
Have any of you guys checked your Engrish here? WTF?!!
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COL Mikel J. Burroughs
COL Mikel J. Burroughs
9 mo
SGT Ethan Kunz - I personally don't know of any direct commissions in that area of study or the MBA, those definitely will come in handy if you do get a commission through Officer Candidate School (OCS). I believe that is your best opportunity and should apply, if you're up for the challenge once again Ethan.
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CPT Lawrence Cable
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I don't know any direct commissions other than Doctors and Lawyers, so can't help you there. Pluses of commissioning. Better pay, more opportunity, more responsibility and a better chance of being involved where the rubber meets the road. Downsides. Officers are up or out, the work load can be pretty extreme at time, and you will never be that buddy close with a squad or platoon again. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a big change in cultures.
If you are really interested in SF, don't commission. The only Company Grade officer is Captain, so the opportunity at Detachment Level for Officers is pretty slim. Your profile says NC Guard and there is part of the 20th Group in North Carolina, so you could apply as without needing a release from the National Guard. As far as I am aware, all of the training, whether active or NG, is active duty, so you would need to be able to go active for the year + it takes to complete the cycle of schools.
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2LT Field Medical Assistant
2LT (Join to see)
1 y
In addition to providers and lawyers, there are 70B direct commission officers (e.g., field medical assistant, ambulance platoon leader, Charlie Med CDR) in NG, Reserves, and AD. I know there's been a big call for direct commissions for the cyber branch as well.
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
1 y
I was a CA officer with the 20th Group and I had exposure with the 19th SFGA in various deployments. Both are top-flight outfits and active-schooling is normally required and many were former active-duty SF Warriors. In '95-'96 I was in Haiti with ODB 2060 and their officers and NCOs were great Soldiers and leaders. I wish you the very best - You are getting some great advice from many subject matter experts who know what they are talking about. Airborne! COL L
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CSM Charles Hayden
CSM Charles Hayden
1 y
SFC Jack S Thank Heaven the mob is fickle and selective!
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LCDR Jerry Maurer
LCDR Jerry Maurer
10 mo
I agree with CPT Cable. The assignments are much more interesting for a junior officer vice a mid-career enlisted, but jobs that would earn you a medal as an enlisted are just another day at the office once you're commissioned. Biggest downside for me was saluting. As an enlisted, you only salute officers. As an officer, you salute everyone who isn't the same rank! That's a pretty minor inconvenience.
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LCDR Vice President
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You get to salute everyone
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
1 y
CDR: I must say of all the services the Marines are hard to beat when it comes to customs and courtesies. It is rare to see an 0-1 with four stacks and I'm sure he knew you were a "Mustang," whose ranks are respected by USMC warriors. Thanks for your service. COL L
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MSgt J D McKee
MSgt J D McKee
12 mo
As enlisted, I never minded saluting much. At times aggravating, but mostly genuine respect for someone who probably deserves it even if I didn't know if they did or not, if I'd never met them. For one thing, I feel most (90%) of officers actually do deserve the salute. A few times, I did look at it from their point of view---I had to salute maybe a dozen times a day, for an officer, it must have been in the hundreds.

But, what we do forms what we are to a great extent. Saluting is very important.
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Col Jonathan Brazee
Col Jonathan Brazee
11 mo
As Commander Wright posted, you GET to salute everyone. It is an officer's DUTY to return every salute he or she receives. The salutes are a sign of mutual respect to each other and to the service as a whole.
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LTC Cavalry Officer
LTC (Join to see)
10 mo
Saluting has always been a special honor for me. I took pride in returning the respect to soldiers, although I knew some officers who avoided it, especially at Retreat and To The Colors (after-duty). In the field, soldiers would say, "we're not supposed to salute in the field, because snipers, sir." My response, "What kind of leader would I be if I was scared to show you the respect you deserve from me!??".
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