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  • OCS Debate

    Hey everyone, I want to thank you for being so helpful to me during the registration process. This forum is invaluable! As of today I am set to swear in on May 29th as an 09s and am seeking some last minute advice...

    A little about myself, I graduated in 2009 with a BA in Business Marketing/ Management and I went back for some post graduate work in Geography. I currently work full time as an Energy Management Analyst. My wife and I recently married in October last year and we are looking to set some life goals together while helping ease the financial burden of student loans. Serving has been on my heart for several years and now seems like the best time to jump in.

    What I have gathered so far in this process is that for degree holders, enlisted vs OCS, is a personal decision. Its one I've wrestled with extensively. The vast majority of people have recommended, with out blinking, OCS. It has better pay and fewer people to tell you what to do. The folks I've spoken with who are or who have served, that enlisted, all said the same. The difference with them was that they didn't regret for as second their decision to enlist, degree or not.

    I highly value gaining the hands on experience and doing "the job" prior to managing it. I think its fundamental. The problem is, with the benefits that come with an officer, that may be the best decision for my family. I'm also trying to consider the fact that I dont have much leadership experience but want to get the tools to change that. I think there is only so much research one can do before just having to go experience it; so Im left with a few questions:

    1. Would you say that certain personality types are more likely to succeed as an officer?
    2. Is it fairly easy to make the jump to OCS after enlisting?
    3. Debt, sadly, is a big factor here. My recruiter said that SLRP isn't guaranteed as enlisted but is so ( and currently is in my packet ) for officer. How much stock is in that? I feel if there is a way to lock that in for enlisted I would jump on it. Its the benefit that is keeping me from doing so and wouldn't be a big deal apart from my wife and I saving for our future family and buying a house.
    4. What are your experiences with this, enlisted vs OCS? I know that everyone is different and that there isn't an answer, but it helps to hear others experiences.

    FYI, areas of interest:

    Thanks again!

  • #2
    Re: OCS Debate

    "It has better pay and fewer people to tell you what to do"

    That is funny!!!! Call an OSM.


    • #3
      Re: OCS Debate

      I was an officer recruiter for over three years, and I'll tell you what I told others in your situation. The disadvantages of being enlisted are obvious, and the advantages are not, whereas with officers it's the other way around. The advantages of being enlisted don't sound that compelling until you live them, just like the disadvantages of being an officer.

      Financially, in the Guard there are scenarios under which serving enlisted can be more financially rewarding than serving as an officer, at least for a few years (if a bonus and/or SLRP are involved). Don't make this career choice for the money, make it because of where you belong.


      • #4
        Re: OCS Debate

        LTC Ritchie gives great advice, especially when it comes to the financial side. I look at my Guard pay as a bonus for getting to put on the uniform once a month and lead soldiers.

        One of the things I see in 09S enlistees is that they don't realize up front how much work you have to put in as an officer in the National Guard. For the most part, it's not going to be a one weekend a month, 2 weeks in the summer job. As a junior enlisted, you can get away with doing little to no work between drills. As an officer, you do most of your work between drills weekends. You need to be prepared for that. Also, if you go straight enlisted to start, you have a much better chance of getting into the MOS you want, if your state has openings. On the officer side, you're going to be branched by the state to fit their needs. They will take into account your preferences, and what branches are available in your area as well. Each state does it a little differently, so I can't get too specific on the processes, but just remember that you may not get your first or even second or third branch choice.

        As for your questions:

        1. I've seen all different kinds of personality types succeed in OCS, but you can't be afraid to step up, take charge, and make a decision.
        2. As long as your GT score is above 110 (I think), and your chain of command ok's it, it shouldn't be too difficult.
        3. I don't know much about SLRP, as I didn't have to use it. I can tell you that right now there are bonuses available to enlisted soldiers that aren't there for officers. Those could be going away soon, though, according to the retention NCO here. Officers have the possibility of a bonus if they're placed in a critical AOC.
        4. I went straight OCS, so I don't have any perspective on the enlisted vs. OCS, but I don't regret my decision at all. For some people, prior-enlisted services helps, and for others it can be a hindrance.

        Hope I helped answer some of your questions and concerns. Good luck to you whichever path you decide on.


        • #5
          Re: OCS Debate

          I am finishing up the Traditional OCS route now, so I'll give you some examples and advice from my end.

          I did JROTC all through high school but opted not to do ROTC in college. After I graduated college I've been working for the Army as a Program Analyst, no affiliation with the Guard. My work rekindled my drive to serve so I chose the 09S enlistment route. I have several classmates that are fellow 09S, several prior enlisted, and a few seasoned NCOs in my current Traditional class. Others have talked about it here, but (hopefully) your cadre will drill into your head that this is not a "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" gig. Recruiters won't tell you that, but officers sure will.

          I honestly believe the Traditional OCS program does the best job, commisioning source wise for the NG anyway, to set the stage for that. There is a lot of training to accomplish in your 1 year + in the Traditional program, and the bulk of the planning and coordination for what we do has to be accomplished throughout the month outside of drill. Since OCS is what I know, it was easy for me to pick it up and run with it. For what it's worth, we've had many prior enlisted and NCOs that have either had trouble adjusting to that expectation and/or didn't adjust and failed for that very reason. They thought they could sit back and just show up on drill weekend, but that's not the case.

          I too have a young family. My first child was born 2 weeks before I shipped to BCT. My 2nd child is due this year while I'm down at OCS Phase III. I also learned I'm leaving to BOLC-B not too long after that for over 18 months.

          Serving is a choice, and as LTC Ritchie said don't do it for the money. Do it because you want to make a difference and are prepared to endure the sacrifices that come when you don the uniform. Hopefully some of what I have said can give you perspective to help make your decision.


          • #6
            Re: OCS Debate


            The LTC, 1LT and OC all gave great advice. The benefits that will pertain to you need to be addressed by you. Weigh the costs and look at your ultimate desired end-state... and then do it.