During our February Drill, some officers came and spoke to us about becoming either a Warrant Officer or a Commissioned Officer. When I was initially recruited for the Army National Guard, it was recommended that, since I already have my Bachelor’s degree, I go the path of the Commissioned Officer. However, as I proceeded through Basic Training and then Advanced Individual Training (AIT) I began to wonder if “going officer” was the right path for me.
Now that I’ve been with the National Guard for 16 months, I better understand the roles the NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers – Corporal through Command Sergeant Major) and thought perhaps I’d like to stay enlisted and help train new troops by becoming a recruiter and a drill sergeant. However, becoming a Warrant Officer is also attractive because it would mean I’m a subject matter expert in my field (in my case, computers and related communication systems). Although I am considered a subject matter expert by my civilian peers, I am at least 3 years away from qualifying to be one for the Army. Although being a warrant officer would be nice, ultimately I don’t feel that is my calling.
When I asked myself what I REALLY wanted to be, the answer came to me clearly.
I want to be a leader among leaders.
Today I received a phone call from a Lieutenant from OCS asking if I was still interested in becoming an Officer for the Army National Guard. After lots of internal conflict and debating, that one thought continued to echo in my head…. “A leader among leaders.” I finally resolved that my talents and abilities would best serve the Army by becoming an officer. So I said, “Yes!”
What this means: I will go through 3 months of Pre-OCS Drills (March, April and May) which is designed to get me ready logistically – meaning to get all my paperwork in order and pass my height/weight and physical fitness requirements.
Assuming I make it through this process (it is not a guarantee by any means), I will then proceed to go through 2 weeks of intense OCS training (OCS = Officer Candidate School) which is essentially like going through Basic Training all over again but only for 2 weeks instead of 10 weeks. As daunting and frightening as that sounds, I have to keep reminding myself that if I could make it through 10 weeks, then surely I can make it through 14 days.
Once the initial 2 weeks is over, I will then do monthly drills for a year. My understanding is that they will still be difficult, but, as the OCS recruiter so eloquently put, “You can handle anything for a weekend.”
Lastly, we will go through another 2 week period where we will be tested on everything we have learned — kind of like finals. Assuming I pass all these challenges, I should graduate and become 2nd Lieutenant Stevens in August, 2016.
I can’t lie – I’m scared as hell about this but despite the general dislike of officers among the enlisted, I feel I have solid support for my decision. Naturally there will still be plenty of nay-sayers. I even had one person during last drill say, “Don’t become an officer – because then I would have to hate you.” I assured him I will do my best to be one of the good officers and NOT get a chip on my shoulder. At the end of the day we are all in this together and every role – lower enlisted, senior enlisted, warrant officers and commissioned officers – is absolutely essential and vital to a smooth-operating Army. I promise I will listen to my NCO’s once I become an officer. Of all the advice I have read, that one seems to be the most important. We are a team and no matter what rank I hold, that will never change. HOOAH!