Tips for Scholarship winners 2014

This year’s high school scholarship process has come to an end.  If you are a winner congratulations.  If you didn’t receive a scholarship there is absolutely no reason why you can’t still attend college, enroll in Army ROTC, and become an Army Officer some day.

So, I just wanted to make a few suggestions regarding the offers for the winners.

Scan and email or upload

On the acceptance form, at the bottom it says:

Mail this form to the address in the return address block or fax to (502) 624-1120 or scan and e-mail to usarmy.knox.usacc.mbx.train2lead@mail.mil

I can’t say it enough that the surest way to get any document to Cadet Command is to scan and email or upload.  If you really feel paranoid enough to mail a hard copy, feel free.  If you want to take your chances with a last century technology like a fax machine, good luck.  The Army currently scans, uploads and digitally signs most everything these days.  If you are having trouble with that technology you’ll need to figure it out soon anyways.  Scan and email your acceptance and chase it with a followup email if you don’t get an acknowledgment.  You can also check with the Battalion that you are accepting the offer to.  Someone there should see your accept shortly after you send it (if you email it).

Take care of DODMERB

Usually the next big-ticket item is the DODMERB.  If you have already been DODMERB qualified by another component or branch (USMA, Air Force…) you shouldn’t have to do anything.  I do recommend that you let your gaining Battalion know just in case.  If for some reason your DODMERB doesn’t seem to be looked at by Army ROTC, we can get the system moving.  If you haven’t had a DODMERB yet, the preliminary instructions will be included with your offer letter, and you need to follow those instructions and get the process moving ASAP.  If you think there will be issues with your DODMERB, the sooner you start the sooner you can work through those issues.

For more on the DODMERB process start here: Open Up and Say Ahhhh

Make sure you are ready for the APFT

You’ll have to pass a no kidding Army Physical Fitness Test to standard (60/60/60) to receive your scholarship.  Where and when you take that PT test is up to the Battalion.  You need to make sure you know the standards and are prepared to pass by the end of the Summer.  In my case, I’ll test all my 4 year winners over the summer to make sure they are ready.  If they pass we contract them on day one.  If they don’t they have to wait until they do.  If they don’t pass by the end of the fall semester they risk losing their scholarship.  By testing over the summer I eliminate the surprise if you fail.  I would suspect most Army ROTC Battalions don’t extend that courtesy to their winners.

Each Battalion is different – the next steps

For the winners, and even for the hopefuls there will be paperwork and orientations and coming to campus ready to participate.  Each Battalion does things a little differently.

Just to give you a snapshot of what it could be like, here is what I do.  First off, I have already started my spreadsheet of all the prospects I have identified that have told me they are coming to campus and plan to enroll.  I will also send out a blanket email to all incoming freshmen at three of my schools inviting them to enroll.  Once I firm up my list of all the incoming freshmen who are interested I will invite them to a one day orientation the day before the rest of the freshman class moves in.  I’ll also send some of the basic forms that they can start on and bring to campus.  Our orientation day starts with a contracting ceremony for all the contracting cadets and scholarship winners who are qualified.  We’ll do some basic paperwork for the rest of the enrolling students.  They’ll receive some equipment and uniforms, take a tour, and do some team building.  Then we leave them alone and let them be new freshmen for the rest of the weekend.  Some schools hold week-long indoctrination.  Some may do even less than we do.

So, congrats to those of you with offers, encouragement to those who didn’t get an offer, but still want to be an Army Officer.  Hopefully we’ll see all of you on campus next year.

The 4 year Army ROTC scholarship application – the CBEF

In an effort to shed some light on the Army ROTC scholarship process I’ve been sharing some screen shots of my application to help you understand what you are looking at.  I would like to say that the improvements to the online applications are very helpful.  The dashboard format makes the process much more easy to follow.  The ability to scan and upload documents is also a big improvement, and I have advocated for years using the most efficient/effective methods of communicating with Cadet Command.  I got an email from an applicant the other day asking about documents he had mailed to Cadet Command.  Not the way I would have done it.

cbef

So, here is the Cadet Background and Experiences From (CBEF) page.  As you can see by the instructions I am not allowed to share what the test is like, but I can tell you that this test is worth points for your file, so blow it off or don’t take it seriously and you could come up short.  Last year I had two applicants with very similar credentials.  In fact one of the files was stronger than the other, but the weaker file got an early offer.  When we questioned the decision we were told that the CBEF score made the difference.  Cadet Command has to use some method to differentiate applicants.  One of the factors is the CBEF.

Hope that helps all you applicants stay focused.  Now it’s time for me to knock out my CBEF.

The 4 year Army ROTC scholarship application – Additional Information

This post is long overdue, but with the confusion over the last couple weeks blogging hasn’t been a priority.  For those of you who have started the application this year you probably aren’t aware that Cadet Command “improved” the online application website this year.  One resource that has always been there was the Additional Information page.  Here is what it looks like.

additionalinformation

I often get emails asking about how to submit information, or how to get the PFT done, or how to get transcripts and all the answers are right here on the application website.  I point that out at the risk of putting me out of a job helping coach applicants through the process, but I’m guessing even with this obvious solution to most problems I’ll still be able to open some eyes with my insightful blog posts, and answer the burning questions sent via email.  You do have to click a couple times to get to this page on the application website.  When you get to your dashboard, the additional information tab is at the top.  If you still can’t find the answer to your question you can find my contact information on this blog.

As the scholarship application season heats up for high school seniors I will be posting some important updates and insights soon, so stay tuned…

CULP trip 2013 – Vietnam – Cadet Locci

Joe Locci reports on his trip to Vietnam.  This is one of my favorite stories from this year’s crop.  I’ve known Joe for a few years now.  He comes from a pretty simple, down to earth background.  I know he has never traveled extensively.  I also know he has Veterans in his family.  When he got selected to go to Vietnam I knew it would be a special opportunity for him.  Here is how he described his trip.

CULP 2013 deployed me to Hanoi, Vietnam from 28 June through 20 July. The team`s mission was to foster healthy relations between the U.S. and Vietnam by working with Vietnamese officers through the instruction and communication of the English language. My team of 11 cadets were divided between four separate classes for the first two weeks of our three week deployment. We discussed aspects of our cultures to include things like currency, weather, food, and family with our students and eventually developed impenetrable friendships with our students.

locci vietnam1During weekends and the final week of our deployment to Vietnam my team took the opportunity to culturally immerse ourselves and experience the lifestyle of Vietnamese people. Such immersions included a trip to the sublime area of Ha Long Bay and the luxurious beach of Da Nang.

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We also toured the DMZ and other historic cites of the Vietnam War such as Khe Sahn Combat Base.

locci vietnam2 We also visited ancient areas such as the Citadel and Imperial City located in Hue, and ruins of My Son.

locci vietnam3We toured various museums and establishments such as the U.S. Embassy and the “Hanoi Hilton”; the POW camp where former Presidential nominee John McCain was imprisoned.

locci vietnam5

Most memorable events would include the whole trip. As I have never traveled outside the U.S. before it was all a first time experience for me that I will never forget. I did enjoy the times spent at Vietnamese restaurants with my fellow cadets eating cuisines that included bizarre foods such as fresh snake or locust. Overall the trip was a success that completely transformed my whole outlook on life. Set ideas and beliefs that I had were totally transformed and reassessed. Too many Americans have no idea how blessed they are just for the fact of being born in the U.S…

Another report from a memorable trip.  It’s almost time for the next batch of Cadets to apply for next Summer’s trips.  Looking forward to their stories.

CULP trip 2013 – Benin – Cadet Papia

Here’s the report from Cadet Papia, who visited the West African nation of Benin.  I always like to read the stories from the Cadets that visit an economically challenged country like Benin.  Seeing the challenges some people have on a daily basis is life changing.  James also got the opportunity to see a World Cup qualifying Soccer match.  That is definitely something special.

My name is James Papia and I will be an MS3 in the Golden Knight Battalion this fall.  This summer I had the opportunity to travel to the country of Benin, in West Africa, on a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) deployment. The history of Benin begins in the 15th century as a kingdom, it became a French colony in 1872, the people achieved independence in 1960, and the country held its first free elections in 1991.  I spent three weeks in Benin teaching English to Benin Army cadets.  On the trip to Benin I was accompanied by fifteen other cadets from across the country and a cadre.  Our trip started off with meeting at Ft. Knox, Kentucky to conduct pre-deployment training.  We finished our pre-deployment training the first two days we were at Ft. Knox. Due to extenuating circumstances we were at Ft. Knox for two weeks instead of three days.  While waiting to leave for Benin we had a firsthand experience of the old army saying “hurry up and wait.”  

When we finally left for Benin we had to leave behind six cadets and a cadre member.  We landed at the International airport in Cotonou, Benin.  Our mission was to teach English at the National Officers Academy in Toffo.  After landing in Cotonou we traveled to Toffo; Toffo is about 50 miles away from Cotonou.  The trip took over four hours.  Back here in the US the trip would have taken just over an hour.  We stayed at the academy for the next two weeks.  We taught English during the week and traveled on the weekends.  I taught seven cadets while at my stay at the academy.  My students were very excited to have me there and spend time with an American.  All my students knew how to speak English and could read English well.  Every day we talked about the differences in the Benin culture and compared it to how life is in the US. 

Benin Army Cadets and my teaching partner Brad Fratangelo (Pennsylvania State University) on top of a training tank.

Benin Army Cadets and my teaching partner Brad Fratangelo (Pennsylvania State University) on top of a training tank.

Teaching was a great experience and I would love to do it again. We also volunteered our time with the local Peace Corps volunteer; we helped build a fence around a new field for planting. The villagers were very welcoming.  I also really enjoyed the sightseeing.  On the weekends we travelled to the cities of Abomey, Ouidah, and Porto Novo.  In Abomey we saw the Royal Palaces of Abomey.  The kings of the Dahomey lived in the palace.   Ouidah was even more exciting.  The Voodoo religion has its roots in West Africa and more prominently in Benin.  Ouidah is considered to many one of the birth places of Voodoo.  While in Ouidah we went to the Python Temple.  Pythons are sacred according to Voodoo.  This temple celebrates them and is a place of worship for the people who believe in Voodoo.  The last city we traveled to was Porto Novo; the capital of Benin. 

Attending a Soccer Match in Benin

Left to Right: Brady Robinson(University of North Dakota), Matt Geiger (University of Portland), and me at a 2014 World Cup Qualifier Soccer game in Porto-Novo, Benin played Algeria and lost 3-1.

During our stay in Porto Novo we were able to go to the 2014 World Cup Qualifier Soccer Game between Benin and Algeria.  This was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  I have always been a soccer player and fan, attending a World Cup Qualifier was a great experience.  Although, Benin lost to Algeria 3-1 the game was great.  We sang and danced with the Benin people during the game.  I could not have asked for a better last day while in country.  It is great to be home but someday I wish to go back to Benin and explore more.   

These CULP trips continue to be an amazing opportunity for our Cadets to experience another culture.  I haven’t had a Cadet yet who regretted the opportunity.

CULP Trip 2013 – Korea – Cadet Hewitt

Cadet Jake Hewitt sent me a short update on his CULP trip this Summer.  He got to go to the Korean Signal School…lucky dog!

My name is CDT Jacob Hewit and I will be an MSIII this upcoming year In the Golden Knight Battalion. This summer I was sent on a CELTT/CULP mission to Korea from June 3rd to July 3rd. I was in a group of 9 other cadets from around the country. Our mission was to teach English to Korean children during the day and Army NCOs and Officers at night, in the city of Daejeon. We taught Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. We would teach 1st through 6th graders at an elementary school on the ROK base. Later in the evening after we ate, I would teach a group of 4 Officers and NCOs on base. The children are all taught English from an early age. A lot of the kids could hold a conversation with you. When I taught the night group, we would just have free conversation and ask each other questions. On our days off we were able to travel the country. We went to Haeundae Beach in Busan, the Seoul Tower, the DMZ, and some of the ROK Army Officer schools. We went to the Aviation School, the Logistics School, and the Signal School. Korea was an awesome place to visit. I had a great experience and would recommend going on CULP to anyone.

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Daejeon National Cemetery

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The Cheonan, the vessel that North Korea sunk in 2010

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Inside one of the Joint Security Area(JSA) buildings at the DMZ. This building is split in half by the border of North and South Korea.

korea4

Walked around the capital Seoul and went up the Seoul Tower

CULP Trip 2013 – Lithuania – Cadet Cunningham

This is the first of the reports from this year’s CULP trip attendees.  Cadet Jessica Cunningham traveled to Lithuania, and this is what she reported.

Most college students spend their summer working, taking summer classes, or trying to find something fun to do. For me, this was not the case. I was offered a great opportunity to spend a month in a foreign country and meet a diverse and interesting group of people. This program through Army ROTC is called CULP (Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency). I spent part of my summer in Lithuania where I taught soldiers from the Lithuanian Army how to speak English. On this trip I was accompanied by a cadre leader SFC Alvarado and ten other cadets from colleges and universities from all over the nation.

Lithuania is located in Eastern Europe and is one of the Baltic States.  Lithuania struggled for freedom for centuries and finally gained independence in 1990. With this, their people are very patriotic and value their freedom. Their soldiers are especially patriotic and the size of their military is increasing every year.

A view of Lithuania's capital Vilnius from a castle located right outside the city.

A view of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius from a castle located right outside the city.

Much of the younger people in Lithuania are able to speak basic English because it is required to take English classes during their primary and secondary education. Their military personnel were eager to learn English (or brush up on their skills) – they believed it would benefit them on their future deployments and help them communicate with a wider range of people. My team was assigned to a military base in Klaipeda, Lithuania where we were able to interact with and teach many members of the enlisted personnel. The other two teams were stationed at a military academy and a Special Forces base.

During the three weeks in Lithuania the other cadets and I taught English to the Lithuanian soldiers Monday through Friday during the morning and afternoon. We rotated between teaching soldiers on a basic English level, intermediate level and advanced level. The nights and weekends we toured different parts of Lithuania and experienced different aspects of their culture. We toured their national museums, visited an orphanage, toured a World War 2 bunker, shopped in their mall, and saw other major attractions.

Cadet Fletcher exploring one of the rooms in a World War 2 bunker in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Cadet Fletcher exploring one of the rooms in a World War 2 bunker in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Me teaching a Lithuanian soldier English terms and how to formulate sentences using those terms.

Me teaching a Lithuanian soldier English terms and how to formulate sentences using those terms.

My most memorable experience from Lithuania was when we visited an orphanage. We spent a day playing games with the children and getting to know them. Some of them did not speak English; however, it did not matter. The children just enjoyed having people to play with. Our cadre leader SFC Alvarado wore his uniform and the children were all inspired-we even taught them some drill and ceremony! The children also taught us Lithuanian games and we taught them American games such as “musical chairs” and “duck, duck goose”. The laughter and joy we brought the children by simply visiting with them and playing games was heartwarming and is something I will never forget.

My trip to Lithuania was an unforgettable experience and has taught me so much about the culture of the people there. It was eye opening in regards to how different people around the world are and how much we take for granted in the United States. This trip made me realize how important it is to think globally and not be as ethnocentric.

The cadets, cadre, and Lithuanian soldiers on the last day at the military base in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

The cadets, cadre, and Lithuanian soldiers on the last day at the military base in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

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