Bears and Saints 2013

The Golden Knight Battalion is made up of Cadets from all four of the schools in the North Country (ClarksonSt LawrenceSUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Canton). Each of the schools adds something special to the mix. Although they all bring unique qualities to the Battalion they all become part of the Battalion quickly. The mix was a good one again this year.  Of note was the fact that all three of the commissionees at SUNY Potsdam was a member of the National Guard or Army Reserves.

This was also the last year that Dr. Schwaller, the President at SUNY Potsdam will participate in our ceremony.  Each year he made it a point to mention that his first official duty when he arrived at SUNY Potsdam was to be part of an Army ROTC commissioning ceremony.  We wish him well as he leave SUNY Potsdam this summer.

Dr Schwaller

So without further adieu, our Commissionees for the Class of 2013 from St Lawrence and State University of New York at Potsdam.

Lieutenant Joel Diagostino

Lieutenant Diagostino is being commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and will serve in the Army Reserves with the 366th MAC Engineer Company here in the North Country.  He also scored the first goal in the hockey game against Air Force this year.

Lieutenant Jacob O’Brien

Lieutenant O’Brien is being commissioned into the Quartermaster Corps.  He received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Quartermaster Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Lieutenant Robishaw

Lieutenant Robishaw is being commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He received bachelor of arts degrees in criminal justice and sociology from State University of New York at Potsdam.  After graduation he will attend the Transportation Officer basic course in Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Combat Support Command.

empey silver dollar

Lieutenant Sean Empey

Lieutenant Empey is being commissioned into the Chemical Corps.  He received a bachelor of arts degree from St Lawrencein history.  He will serve this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington prior to attending the Chemical  Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be Fort Hood, Texas with the 1ST Cavalry Division.

We are now almost “Mission Complete” on the class of 2013. We do have three Cadets who are finishing up course work and plan to earn their degree and commission before the end of the semester.  These three will allow us to exceed our commission mission again this year.   Not bad for a small school from the real upstate New York.

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GKB commissioning 2013

We held our commissioning ceremony at Clarkson University on 11 May this year.  We commissioned 10 Cadets, and we had commissioned 2LT Nicky Lea in December which made a total of 11 Clarkson Lieutenants to date for the year group.

Thanks to our guest speaker Major General Robert Stall

Clarkson commissioning 2013

Here are the new Lieutenants

Lieutenant Dylan Bach 

Lieutenant Bach is commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Transportation Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York.

Lieutenant Gregory Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in global supply chain management and a minor in project management.  He will work at this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis,  Washington prior to attending the Military Police Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in Sembach Germany.

Lieutenant Matthew Coryea

Lieutenant Coryea is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 366th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Lieutenant Ian Lamos

Lieutenant Lamos is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics.  He will attend the Military Intelligence  Officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York with the Tenth Mountain Division.

Lieutenant Patrick McPartland

Lieutenant McPartland is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  He will serve in the Army Reserves with the 305th Engineer Detachment at Fort Wadsworth, New York.

Lieutenant Nick Olszewski

Lieutenant Olszewski is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in engineering and management.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Riley, Kansas with the First Infantry Division.

Lieutenant Olszewski will also receive a certificate recognizing him as a Distinguished Military Graduate signifying his high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Lieutenant Steve Strait

Lieutenant Strait is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 20th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Joshua Addington

Lieutenant Addington is commissioned into the Ordinance Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in history.  He will attend the Ordinance  Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the  1107th Mobile Support out of Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Lieutenant Andrew Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in psychology.  He will attend the Military Police officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 382nd Military Police Battalion.

Lieutenant Lampert

Lieutenant Lampert is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering.  He will attend the Military Intelligence officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with A Company, 325th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

GKB 2012 Clarkson graduates

Here are the Cadets that will take their oath tomorrow and commission into the Army. The following day they will graduate from Clarkson University. A good group of Army Leaders.

Lieutenant Chris Coveleski

Lieutenant Coveleski is commissioned into the Transportation Corps. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Suppy Chain Management with a minor in Law Studies. He will attend the Transportation Officer Basic Course at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He will serve in the New York National Guard with the 42nd Infantry Division Intelligence and Sustainment Company.

Lieutenant Russell Austin

Lieutenant Austin is commissioned into the Infantry. He will graduate with distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Airborne Division.

Lieutenant Austin is also a distinguished military graduate signifying his high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Lieutenant Matthew Edgette

Lieutenant Edgette is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will graduate with distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Heidleberg Germany with the 18th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Michael Fensterer

Lieutenant Fensterer is commissioned into the Armor Branch. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Supply Chain Management. He will attend the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. LT Fensterer also leaves Clarkson with a perfect 4-0 record as the goalie for the the Army team in our annual ice hockey game against Air Force.

Lieutenant Timothy Nevin

Lieutenant Nevin is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degrees in Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Project Management. He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He will serve in the Reserves with the 382nd Engineer Company, Sappers out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lieutenant Chris O’Connor

Lieutenant O’Connor is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Carson, Colorado with the 4th Engineer Battalion.

Lieutenant David Pecka

Lieutenant Pecka is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He will serve in the Reserves with the 479th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Drum, New York.

Lieutenant Joshua Risewick

Lieutenant Risewick is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Hood, Texas with the 36th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Jonathon Waterman

Lieutenant Waterman is commissioned into Military Intelligence branch. He will receive a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree. He will attend the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He will serve in the Reserves with the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion in Mattydale, New York.

Lieutenant Jennifer Zanghi

Lieutenant Zanghi is commissioned into the Medical Service Corps. She will graduate with great distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. She will attend the Medical Services Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas prior to attending flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama in order to train as a medevac pilot.

Lieutenant Zanghi is also recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate signifying her high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Congratulations to all the Golden Knights…stay tuned for our Commissionees from SUNY Potsdam and St Lawrence who will commission next week.

Selfless Service

As usual I’m receiving emails from students this time of year asking about Army ROTC. Some of these emails have a common theme, and unfortunately I have a common response that they are probably not expecting. Here is some of what I have been receiving

looking to get as many benefits as possible

I’m interested in joining the ROTC, and earning a 2 year ROTC scholarship for graduate school.

Here is the problem. Scholarships are becoming harder to get. I’ve been doing this job for about 8 years, and I’m as good as anyone at getting our cadets as many scholarships opportunities as possible. Right now there aren’t a lot available, the Army is not looking to expand the force, and they are being more cautious about who gets an offer. Cap that off with as many students as ever looking for help paying for college, and there are going to be a lot of long faces when the offer doesn’t come through.

My response to all of these emails is come show us what you’ve got, and I’ll do what I can for you. If you aren’t applying through the national high school process, don’t expect a scholarship coming in. If you think you have what it takes you’re going to need to show up on campus, enroll in ROTC class, and show us you are serious about becoming an Army Officer. That doesn’t mean show up and try to blow sunshine up our *** until you get an offer, and then coast. I would be willing to bet most ROTC Battalions these days have room to be a little picky, I know we do here at Clarkson, so you are going to have to bring your A game.

Don’t let this discourage you if you want to become an Army Officer. Students are getting offers, and programs like SMP and GRFD are other ways to help pay for college through the military. Keep in mind too that you will have a job when you graduate, and it will not take long to pay off those student loans. Give it your best shot, come to school ready to do well academically, and plan to put your all into ROTC and some day you may be given the privilege to lead America’s Sons and Daughters as an Army Officer.

She’s not singing yet!

It’s not over till the fat lady sings. The high school national process for Army ROTC scholarships is almost over and all the offers have been posted (to the best of my knowledge). Here is what I posted on the Service Academy – ROTC discussion board today:

got en email today that said all offers have been posted for this year’s third scholarship board. Remember that an offer isn’t official until you get the letter in the mail. For those of you that are still waiting for your status to change, it’s time to shift fire to plan B. I don’t want to create false hope, but remember that there will likely still be campus based scholarships (expect them to be predominantly 3 year AD). There will also be an increase in the Guard/Reserve mission, and thus GRFD scholarships may be available for those cadets not interested in Active Duty. And don’t ever forget the SMP option.

It’s been a difficult scholarship process from my end, with a lot of uncertainty, but I am certain that we will continue to provide any qualified, motivated student interested in serving as an Army Officer the tools and the opportunity they need to succeed as a Second Lieutenant when they graduate. As someone who shares our values of Loyalty, Duty, and Selfless Service you should expect nothing more, and nothing less.

Good luck to all of you.

There will still be a process where scholarship winners will have to verify their intended school, or request to have their scholarship transfered. Apart from posting about the procedures to ask for a transfer I have no insight into whether these requests will be honored or not. Once that procedure is done the next step will be for Brigade to allocate any additional funds as campus based scholarship. I am also told that there may be additional offers for “qualified, but not selected” applicants from West Point. Again, how these will be offered, and who will get the offers has not been explained to me.

So, my advice is to plan for the worst. Plan to come to campus in the fall, enroll in ROTC. There are no guarentees, but we promise that you will have the opportunity to get some great training and have the opportunity to commission if you fulfill all the requirements, and the we still need Lieutenants in 5 years.

So, what’s your plan??

What’s in it for me?

Not every one in ROTC is going to school for free. There, I said it. Many people think that all Cadets are going to school for free, and that is not the case.  As budgets tighten more and more cadets will be enrolled, and may not be contracted until their Junior year.  So, why in the world would someone participate in ROTC in college and contract without a full ride scholarship?

Here are some of the motivations and benefits that go beyond the free college education some cadets receive.

Cadet Command did a smart thing a couple years ago. Since West Point graduates and ROTC graduates are at the exact same place when they graduate (brand new Second Lieutenants with a college degree) they decided to offer the same deal to ROTC scholarship winners that West Pointers get.  Unlike some of the other service’s ROTC’s, all of our scholarship pay all tuition and fees (or room and board if it’s more).  No tier 2 or partial scholarships for non technical majors.  Just like in the old days when they decided that enlisted soldiers didn’t fall out of the sky any faster or slower and they deserved the same amount of jump pay.  Back when I was a Cadet, Officers actually got paid more to be on jump status.

Can you pick out the scholarship winners...didn't think so.

But I digress.  For all the applicants who don’t get scholarships, and the students who come to school next fall without a good understanding of what ROTC has to offer, and what being an Army Officer is all about, I would welcome you to consider the other benefits and think about giving it a try.

SMP another option

The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) is a program that allows Reserve and National Guard soldiers to be enrolled in ROTC, take advantage of certain benefits, and pursue a commission.   It has some benefits and some drawbacks, and I’ll do my best to spell out each.  This is a program that students who aren’t strong scholarship candidates should consider to help pay for college.

Take a look at this video.  It is very cursory, and focuses on National Guard.  Remember that you can also SMP in the Reserves, and know that you can start on the path to SMP as early as freshman year.

Lets start off by saying that a student interested in SMP will have to talk to a recruiter, enlist in the Guard or Reserves, and may have to attend Basic Training and AIT.  You don’t necessarily have to do this right off the bat.  You could start taking ROTC classes and then look into the SMP program.  This option could allow you to forgo basic training.

Technically you aren’t an SMP cadet until you have contracted in ROTC, which is another reason I suggest starting in ROTC before enlisting.  Since a cadet can’t contract until sophomore year, unless they are on scholarship, a freshman cadet will be in somewhat of a grey area.  Students can try to enlist as an officer cadidate (MOS O9r), or they can enlist for any MOS they are qualified for.  If they chose to enlist O9r they will have to have a letter of acceptance from an ROTC Battalion, and they may have some difficulty getting GI bill benefits while a cadet, because technically there is no AIT for their MOS (ROTC is the advance training), so they will never be MOS qualified until they commission.

Once a cadet is in the SMP program they are required to join a Guard or Reserve unit and drill regularly.  This means they will be giving up one weekend a month to go train with their unit.  If they are lucky they will be a member of a unit that is easy to travel to.  In our case we have a unit in the next town over (Canton), and we are 1 hour north of Fort Drum, which is home to a number of units.  Some would argue that drilling and attending AIT will make a future officer better, because they have experienced what the soldiers they will lead have experienced.  I totally disagree with this theory, and the topic will be the subject of a future blog.

Here is the biggest concern and possible draw back to this option.   Although an SMP cadet is not deployable, again a cadet is not officially SMP until they contract.  An enlisted freshman may be told that they must deploy with their unit.  Currently my understanding is that they are usually not required to deploy, but again this can be a gray area.  Additionally, often my prospects are convinced to forgo a semester to attend Basic and AIT (the recruiter gets his credit) which often puts the future cadet out of synch and a semester behind which often results in December graduation.  Without going into a lot of detail this creates problems.  It is far better to start school as planned and if there is still a burning desire to attend Basic, it can be done between Freshman and Sophomore year.

One last consideration is that if you are competing for a 4 year scholarship, and accept it, you cannot participate in the SMP program your first year, and must leave the guard or reserves.  If you are a scholarship winner and you do desire the SMP program, starting in your sophomore year, you can convert your scholarship to a Guaranteed Reserve Forces  Duty (GRFD) scholarship.  At that time you must begin drilling, and you will be prohibited from assessing onto Active Duty.  Non scholarship SMP cadets can still go Active Duty when they graduate.

The bottom line is make sure that if you are considering the SMP program that you get your information from an enrollment officer, and carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks.

New York National Guard SMP site

This link is a good starting point for info.  One reason it took so long for me to tackle this post is that it’s a little difficult to explain SMP in a simple, concise way.  If you google ROTC SMP you will find a ton of discussion board threads covering all the variations of the SMP program, with a ton of misleading and partially incorrect information.  I can’t emphasize enough that you talk to an enrollment officer at an ROTC battalion to get the most accurate information about the program.