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  • What to expect with OCS

    I'm a teacher in Wisconsin seriously considering joining the National Guard. Since I have a Bachelor's Degree, my recruiter suggested enlisting and completing OCS. I think the knowledge and leadership skills I gain would help me become a better teacher and advance me professionally. I'm 30 years-old and married with two kids. I've always wanted to serve my country and when I was younger I had seriously contemplated joining, but never did.

    Anyway, I'm looking for clarification, suggestions, advice, etc. about what to expect or consider in joining the National Guard and following the OCS route.

    1. My meeting with the OCS recruiter is in the next week or so. What should I do to prepare for my interview with him/her?

    2. If I enlist, is the timeline of events (as I understand them) correct?
    - Attend RSP until BCT this summer (where I and other recruits train for BCT)
    - BCT this summer
    - After BCS, more RSP until OCS starts in Spring 2014
    - OCS replaces RSP for drill/2 weeks of training for 15 months
    - Receive commission Summer 2015
    - Attend Officer specialty training (I'm pretty uninformed about this aspect) somewhere for 4 months or so

    3. I want to start a Master's program while in the Guard. The program I really want to participate in starts at the end of this month, possibly before I would enlist. The program coordinator believes I can still complete it even with the Guard obligations. If I began taking classes before enlisting, would the Guard still pay the tuition?

    4. How early would I deploy? I know that it's highly likely and my wife and I are planning on it happening. I haven't been able to determine how early it would happen.

    Thanks everyone for your help/clarifications.

  • #2
    Re: What to expect with OCS

    Sometimes they have a "rsp" for future OCS participants, so no you probably will not go back to RSP after BCT, except maybe the first drill. It depends on what type of OCS school you go to, ocs isn't necessarily the state ocs of one weekend a month for 18 months.

    As soon as you sign the contract you can use FTA and any state assistance to help pay for school.

    You will not be able to deploy until you complete your branch training.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: What to expect with OCS

      Originally posted by Chaplain4me View Post
      Sometimes they have a "rsp" for future OCS participants, so no you probably will not go back to RSP after BCT, except maybe the first drill. It depends on what type of OCS school you go to, ocs isn't necessarily the state ocs of one weekend a month for 18 months.

      As soon as you sign the contract you can use FTA and any state assistance to help pay for school.

      You will not be able to deploy until you complete your branch training.
      +1. War in Afghanistan ends December 2014. You made it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: What to expect with OCS

        Originally posted by jrs82 View Post
        I'm a teacher in Wisconsin seriously considering joining the National Guard. Since I have a Bachelor's Degree, my recruiter suggested enlisting and completing OCS. I think the knowledge and leadership skills I gain would help me become a better teacher and advance me professionally. I'm 30 years-old and married with two kids. I've always wanted to serve my country and when I was younger I had seriously contemplated joining, but never did.

        Anyway, I'm looking for clarification, suggestions, advice, etc. about what to expect or consider in joining the National Guard and following the OCS route.

        1. My meeting with the OCS recruiter is in the next week or so. What should I do to prepare for my interview with him/her?

        2. If I enlist, is the timeline of events (as I understand them) correct?
        - Attend RSP until BCT this summer (where I and other recruits train for BCT)
        - BCT this summer
        - After BCS, more RSP until OCS starts in Spring 2014
        - OCS replaces RSP for drill/2 weeks of training for 15 months
        - Receive commission Summer 2015
        - Attend Officer specialty training (I'm pretty uninformed about this aspect) somewhere for 4 months or so

        3. I want to start a Master's program while in the Guard. The program I really want to participate in starts at the end of this month, possibly before I would enlist. The program coordinator believes I can still complete it even with the Guard obligations. If I began taking classes before enlisting, would the Guard still pay the tuition?

        4. How early would I deploy? I know that it's highly likely and my wife and I are planning on it happening. I haven't been able to determine how early it would happen.

        Thanks everyone for your help/clarifications.
        1) Can't help you there. I was prior enlisted so I never spoke to an OCS recruiter. However, my understanding is that there are only "recruiters" in general; the OCS program does not have its own specific recruiting staff. I would just bring whatever they told you to bring (if anything) and be somewhat knowledgeable about the different options open to you (it looks like you've already got this box checked).

        2) Looks about right. Like Chaplain4me said, you'll probably start drilling with the RTI (Regional Training Institute -- the school unit that runs OCS and various other NG schools for your state) immediately after the hand-off after returning from BCT, rather than drill with RSP. However, until phase 1 actually kicks off, you'll be in the unofficial "phase 0" which consists of getting smoked and doing preparation for phase 1. Once you commission, you'll drill with your assigned unit. It will be up to them to cut your orders for BOLC; you'll no longer have any affiliation with OCS.

        3) Look into the SLRP (Student Loan Repayment Program). Your NG benefits will not be in effect prior to enlistment (you will probably have to complete at least BCT before using any benefits). Make sure your program coordinator understands that your obligations at this point consist of more than just one weekend per month, since you have to attend BCT.

        4) You can be deployed as soon as you are branch qualified. That is, as soon as you graduate from BOLC. However, with the war in Afghanistan winding down, the deployment cycles may become much slower...for now. Then again, anything is possible.

        With that out of the way, consider the following reality check.

        Your ambition and willingness to serve despite your current professional and personal obligations are commendable. However, the honest truth is that OCS is meant to be more of a gut check than an educational program. Keep in mind that the quality/competence of instructors and cadre varies widely, and if you get stuck with some bad apples it will simply be a matter of sucking it up until you walk across the stage and hopefully never see them again. You will definitely learn some technical skills (such as land navigation), but as for "leadership" skills (especially those which are relevant outside the military), I wouldn't necessarily count on it. Personally, the only things I took away from OCS were a little bit of familiarization with land navigation, OPORD basics, and a little bit of patrolling. In other words, I think the likelihood of your experience in OCS directly enhancing your abilities as a teacher are asymptotically close to zero.

        On the other hand, your experiences once you get to your unit may be directly beneficial to you and give you a new perspective on actual leadership. The above is not meant to dissuade you from enlisting, but simply make you aware of the realities of that which you are about to undertake. I would rather you be aware of the not-so-shiny side of things now than experience disillusionment later.

        In short, OCS will not make a leader out of you. It exists to put you through some stuff that sucks to make sure that you don't crack when the heat gets turned up to medium. Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What to expect with OCS

          I pretty much am doing exactly what your plan is:
          I am a high school teacher/coach looking for something more. So, I learned more about the Guard.
          I was 30 (turned 31) at BCT last summer. Went directly to OCS and commissioned November 2013. I am off to BOLC next week.
          Federal regs (USERRA) protect your job and your employer MUST give you the time to train and hold your job for you. It's annoying and your HR might try and play ignorant with you - but know your rights and educate your district.

          Deployment will really depend on your specific unit and may or may not happen immediately (like it tends to if you're new to your unit in Active Duty).

          Federal OCS is a beast in and of itself, so if you want more info on that specifically, shoot me a message.

          Good Luck!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: What to expect with OCS

            Elmore, you commissioned in 2012...not 2013!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: What to expect with OCS

              It's really great to see others in my position going through this process. It is very encouraging. I am a high school science teacher, and for so long I have wanted to give back to this country by serving. The time is definitely now. My interview with the OCS coordinator is today. I'm trying to anticipate the questions I maybe asked without much luck.

              I'm a little worried about my job being held for me because I am in the process of switching school districts. I plan on waiting to begin BCT after I sign my contract with the new school district, but I'm unsure on how the new district will react to me leaving for BCT and OCS right after signing with them.

              I also want to do the FOCS because from what I'm reading, the traditional OCS is similar if not more demanding than doing a graduate degree. I taught while pursuing an MS degree and it was unfair to my students. I wasn't able to commit as much time as I would of liked to my students. I just want to get everything over with and just focus on my students.

              Selmore816 - what did you branch in? What advice can you give us to help prepare for BCT and OCS?

              Thanks

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: What to expect with OCS

                M--What state are you looking to join?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: What to expect with OCS

                  Maryland refcorp.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: What to expect with OCS

                    Originally posted by Mr.M View Post
                    I also want to do the FOCS because from what I'm reading, the traditional OCS is similar if not more demanding than doing a graduate degree. I taught while pursuing an MS degree and it was unfair to my students. I wasn't able to commit as much time as I would of liked to my students. I just want to get everything over with and just focus on my students.
                    Two notes here:

                    1) FOCS is probably much more physically demanding than the NG variants. The majority of people fail, come home, or are recycled due to injuries from all the running they do. Yes it's a different environment and they get weekends off after a certain point, but they have that luxury with a 12 week program of instruction. But that is 12 additional straight weeks right after your 9-10 weeks of BCT, so you're going to be gone 5.5 months minimum if you go that route. If I were an employer I'd probably not like it too much if I just hired a guy and he ups and leaves for what's essentially an entire semester.

                    2) Traditional OCS IS demanding in its own way, but I wouldn't par it up there with the demands of getting a graduate degree. Sure you're still gone about 2.5 months for BCT, but you come home and can still do your day job. You just have to carve time out during the months to do administrative things (memos, OPORDs, etc.), coordinate at least via e-mail with your classmates, and keep yourself physically prepared. The months you are in leadership are more demanding on your time, but even then I don't think you would be doing a dis-service to yourself or your students on that end. Regardless if you're a joe or leadership that month, you show up on drill weekends and execute...and on Sunday you go home.

                    At the end of the day your commissioning source isn't going to matter much. The demands on NG officers AFTER their commissioning source and branch BOLC, from what I've seen and been told, are far greater than what we experience in Traditional OCS. This would be true especially on the time and amount of things that need to get done to prepare for drills.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: What to expect with OCS

                      I live in DC and investigated the DC/VA/MD Guards before joining VA. MD told me they do not send 09s to Fed OCS, while DC said they could easily get me a slot. VA was a little tougher, but they eventually sent me after some persistence on my part. This was probably 8-10 months ago, so perhaps things have changed. But, if you're dead-set on going the federal route like I was, make sure your state will guarantee it to you and you get it in your contract at MEPS.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: What to expect with OCS

                        Thank you so much for the insight. Depending on how today goes, I will begin looking at VA or DC. Would I have to begin all paper work again with each different state? For federal, do you have to get interviewed by the OCS board as well?

                        Everyone seems to ignore this question. Can you tell me about your experience with the OCS coordinator? How was the interview? What should I expect?

                        Thanks
                        Last edited by Mr.M; March 7th, 2013, 10:47 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: What to expect with OCS

                          I'm not really sure what you mean by OCS recruiter/coordinator. Maybe MD is different, but I just worked with the local enlisted recruiter referred to me after filling out the online interest form. Having a good relationship with him will make your life easier, so I'd suggest having all your paperwork/documents squared away.

                          To get my FOCS seat, I had a conversation with the head of my state's Officer Strength Manager office. No formal board/panel or anything like that. We talked about a wide variety of things, including my motivations for joining, what I was hoping to get out of the Guard, my job situation, my physical condition, what I wanted to branch, etc.

                          I can't speak to the administrative process of switching the state that is recruiting you, though I'm sure others on this site can.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: What to expect with OCS

                            Originally posted by Mr.M View Post
                            It's really great to see others in my position going through this process. It is very encouraging. I am a high school science teacher, and for so long I have wanted to give back to this country by serving. The time is definitely now. My interview with the OCS coordinator is today. I'm trying to anticipate the questions I maybe asked without much luck.

                            I'm a little worried about my job being held for me because I am in the process of switching school districts. I plan on waiting to begin BCT after I sign my contract with the new school district, but I'm unsure on how the new district will react to me leaving for BCT and OCS right after signing with them.

                            I also want to do the FOCS because from what I'm reading, the traditional OCS is similar if not more demanding than doing a graduate degree. I taught while pursuing an MS degree and it was unfair to my students. I wasn't able to commit as much time as I would of liked to my students. I just want to get everything over with and just focus on my students.

                            Thanks
                            It is SO refreshing to see other teachers pursuing this! It's very encouraging. I don't feel so crazy anymore. Most people think I am insane.

                            I have a lot of the same concerns you do about the demands of traditional OCS. It is definitely my preferred route, but I teach 3 preps (hopefully next year it will only be 2) and coach so that keeps me pretty busy already. I REALLY would prefer to go traditional instead of taking a semester off, especially considering I'll have to take a semester for BOLC not long after. The RTI is only about an hour and change away from me so I feel pretty lucky in that respect that I won't have too much travel time.

                            Anyone here been through the Virginia State OCS?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: What to expect with OCS

                              Okay. 15-year-old veteran teacher here. I'll be going to AOCS 8 june. I suggest we change the title of this thread to "OCS for Educators".

                              Woot, Woot!!

                              Anyways, personally, I think AOCS would be the absolute best option for teachers. You can knock out 8 weeks over summer break and not interrupt the school year. More importantly, you won't interrupt your teacher pay. Most importantly, you'll be getting paid E6 pay, BAH, and separation pay. Can't go wrong there.

                              Comment

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