24 • The Monitor • Dec. 1, 2005
ROTC program offers college careers, commissions
JEREMY O’BRYAN For many, the prospect of separating from the Army
Western Region, U.S. Army Cadet Command to attend school, and the resulting loss of pay and bene-
fits, can be daunting. The active duty option meets
Enlisted Soldiers now have an option to stay on
Soldiers’ concerns about money and other benefits head
active duty – and retain all of their pay and benefits –
while attending college to complete a degree and
Staff Sgt. Brian Abel, a 26-year-old Soldier from
become an officer.
Velva, N.D., had contemplated getting out of the Army
The Green to Gold Active Duty Option is a two-year in 2000 and using his G.I. Bill to finish college.
scholarship program which allows Soldiers who meet “Even using my G.I. Bill to finish college would
certain time-in-service and age requirements to attend have been tough to do financially,” Abel said. He decid-
college for a period of up to 24 months, complete with ed to stay in and look for options that allowed him to
normal permanent change of station benefits. pursue a degree while on active duty. Since then, he’s
Having active-duty Soldiers join the ranks of ROTC been assigned to South Korea and deployed to Iraq,
is a boon to the entire process of making officers, said gaining experience and wisdom. Now he is a senior at
Lt. Col. Cam Carlson, Professor of Military Science at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.
the University of Alaska–Fairbanks. The program allows Soldiers to enter the ROTC pro-
Carlson, who entered the commissioned ranks gram as academic juniors or graduate students and
through the Green to Gold Program in 1986, said it’s requires they graduate within 21 months (under unique
important for the Army to synthesize enlisted Soldiers circumstances and after approval by U.S. Army Cadet
into officers. Command, this may be extended to 24 months).
“As a result of their time on active duty, enlisted Soldiers who are selected to participate in the program
Soldiers provide a perspective to their class cohorts in continue to receive their current pay and allowances. STEPHANIE REQUA
terms of experiences and job training that builds a wider While the active duty option doesn’t allow Soldiers Sgt. Ballah Howard, left, and Staff Sgt. Brian
base of knowledge for group success,” Carlson to use Army tuition assistance, they may receive any Abel plot points on a training mock-up at
explained. portion of the G.I. Bill benefits they earned since enter- Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. Both NCOs
Eric Mtika, a cadet in Carlson’s battalion and a ing military service. are college seniors assigned to the university’s
fourth-year student at UAF, joined the Army in 2002 Through the active duty option, aspirations of being ROTC program, also known as the “Comanche”
because he wanted to become an officer. His family an Army officer are answered, not only for those who battalion.
moved to the U.S. from Malawi, Africa, when he was currently lack a college degree or other prerequisites,
11. but also for those whose enlisted service has given them ing at Fort Hood, his first duty station, and eventually
After high school he attended college in the Pacific time to gain U.S. citizenship. achieved U.S. citizenship.
Northwest for a while, and then joined the Army hoping Sgt. Ballah Howard, a senior studying criminal jus- “I went to Fort Sill, then deployed to Iraq,” Howard
to fulfill his dream. Mtika said he learned things as a tice at Cameron, was a refugee from war-torn Liberia. said. “When I got back I went to Cameron University
Soldier, such as taking orders and programming himself His mother left the country and sent Howard to Cote and talked to the recruiting officer, who told me about
to act quickly and decisively. Mtika feels this helped d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, where he the active duty option.”
him in his bid to become an officer. attended school. He saw U.S. Soldiers there escorting Howard will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in
“Mtika has made a great transition,” Carlson said. Americans out of the country. May 2006 and will be working on his master’s when
“Experienced enlisted Soldiers can serve with distinc- “I knew from that moment that I wanted to be in the he’s commissioned in May 2007.
tion as officers in a short period of time. The U.S. Army,” Howard explained. For more information about the Green to Gold
‘Soldierization’ process is already complete and they He later graduated from high school, joined his Program Active Duty Option, find a nearby Army
wouldn’t have been selected for the program unless they mother in Staten Island, N.Y., and enlisted in the Army. ROTC program at www.goarmy.com/rotc. Or visit
had received accolades from their chain of command. He always kept an eye out for ways to achieve high- www.rotc.monroe.army.mil/scholarship_HPD2/green/o
It’s paramount to get guys like that.” er goals. He took classes almost right away after arriv- ptions.htm and select the Active Duty Option link.
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