By: Mariyah Wojcik
Fort Knox, Kentucky (June 10, 2015) – Hollywood leads many to believe that all Soldiers are destined for immediate active duty. Film directors may take license to push the borders of reality through war movies over the last few decades, but cadre at the Reserve and National Guard briefing on June 10 sought to provide information and shed light on all of the true paths that ROTC cadets can explore in their futures.
Only about 40 percent of all ROTC cadets qualify for active duty positions after graduation, according to Lt. Col. Donna McDermott, Assistant Chief of Staff (ACoS) for the Army National Guard.
With the majority of the roughly 260 CIET cadets present at the briefing raising their hands to signal that they each desired an active duty slot, competition is tough for the limited number of positions.
“You all have unique skills and unique talents, and some of you may already have something in mind you want to do,” said McDermott. “Don’t let the challenges of this training sway you, but have a plan B and be prepared.”
With every six out of 10 cadets becoming a part of either the Reserve or National Guard, it is clear that each component will need excellent officers.
“I was once in your shoes,” said Col. Chris Fry Sr., ACoS Army Reserve. “It was not the same seat you are in now, but I did make that decision.”
The Army Reserve is under federal jurisdiction, whereas the National Guard is controlled by 54 states and territories. To put this in perspective, there are about 80 active duty locations as opposed to over 300 Reserve/National Guard locations. This allows for a wide range of specialization and individual job options.
Many of the officers present at the briefing shared their experiences in the Reserve or National Guard, and all were very positive and encouraging.
Warrant Officer Shaun Neil recalled a situation in which he was deployed to help citizens in Washington when wildfires ravaged small towns across the state.
“To me, that was worth my entire career to help those people,” said Neil. “These are my neighbors. It was very rewarding.”
The Reserve and National Guard options are especially appealing to those cadets that are very interested in a career in their field of study or wish to remain closer to home in the short term.
“I knew I wanted a civilian career, and I knew I wanted to make money,” said Cpt. Douglas Coppola, Finance Officer in the New Jersey National Guard. “I also knew I wanted to serve my country the best that I could.”
Regardless of the path that each cadet chooses to pursue, it is clear that all involved with CST are invested in the success of that mission.
“I think everyone has goals, whether it’s short-term, near-term, or long-term,” said Neil. “Maybe they get in to ROTC and realize they like it enough that they want to stay full-time and do a 20-year career active duty. But maybe they have that career in mind where they want to go to work on Wall Street or become a business owner, and they still want to serve part time. We can give them the tools to help them be successful in both careers.”