Eligible active-duty enlisted Soldiers can pursue different options for going to college through the Army's Green to Gold program, which allows them to earn a degree and commission through a university's Army ROTC program. Columbus State University has seven Green to Gold recipients within its 107-member cadet corps.

Columbus State University's Army ROTC battalion wants to lure more enlisted troops back into the classroom.

The Army's Green to Gold program provides eligible active-duty Soldiers an opportunity to complete a baccalaureate or graduate degree and be commissioned as officers. There are three application routes for both undergraduate and graduate degree programs at more than 270 colleges and universities around the country.

Green to Gold identifies enlisted Soldiers with officer potential and assists them in moving from active duty to compete for an officer commission through ROTC, said Capt. Crystal Lauver, the Army ROTC recruiting operations officer at CSU's "Cougar Battalion." Soldiers can seek entry via scholarship, non-scholarship or active duty option. ADO and scholarship are nationally conducted boards, she said, while non-scholarship and "hip-pocket scholarship" is handled at the battalion level.

"There is no limit to the number of cadets who can participate in our program, but the Green to Gold program is very competitive," she said. "The major benefit is being able to complete your degree and commission as an officer in the Army. This is a great opportunity to blend enlisted experience, college education and future opportunities for individual growth.

"(But) these programs are competitive and scores at the minimum level do not have much chance of being selected at the national level boards."

Only about 200 Soldiers are selected nationally for Green to Gold ADO and scholarships each year, Lauver said. Historically, each major command is allocated a few "hip-pocket scholarships" as well but the number fluctuates annually.

CSU has seven Green to Gold cadets among the 107 overall in its Army ROTC program. One of them is Cadet Lt. Col. Donald Bolz, the cadet battalion commander.

He went Green to Gold in June 2009 and began classes at CSU that fall after serving on active duty for 11 years. The sergeant first class, who's nearing 13 years of active federal service, spent time as a squad leader, platoon sergeant and Ranger instructor.

"This program is the Army's best-kept secret," Bolz said. "It has benefited me by allowing me to complete my degree while continuing to support my family. It also has allowed me to spend quality time with my family without the rigorous ops tempo of the Army. I have improved my leadership capabilities and gained knowledge about military leadership that is not offered anywhere else in the Army."

Bolz applied for the Green to Gold ADO and was accepted at CSU as a junior, he said. Under the ADO program, a Soldier still receives all pay and benefits for the two years he or she is in school.

"Two years ago, he was walking patrols and now he is the battalion commander of the program and will be a second lieutenant in couple months," Lauver said.

Since every applicant has a unique situation, she encourages Soldiers interested in Green to Gold to review Cadet Command Regulation 145-6 - available online - to view their options and where they may qualify. The regulation is under 30 pages and provides background on the program, eligibility and other useful tools.

"The bottom line is ... we try to find the best fit for both the Army and the Soldier," she said. "The first thing we ask anyone considering ROTC is, 'What is their desired outcome'' That's not just for the next few years, but overall in their career. This helps us determine which path is best for them."

The deadline for ADO and scholarship applications online is April 1 for Soldiers looking to start school this fall.

"I would absolutely recommend anyone who is nearing 60 credit hours to submit a packet for the Green to Gold program," Bolz said. "If a Soldier does not yet have 60 credits, I would even recommend the scholarship option."

Eligible Soldiers may apply for two-, three- and four-year scholarships. To be considered, however, they must have at least two years of college remaining to finish their degree. The service member also has to be under age 31 on Dec. 31 of the year he or she completes all requirements for a commission and degree.


GO GREEN TO GOLD

Visit www.goarmy.com/rotc/enlisted-soldiers.html for requirements and more information about the Army's Green to Gold program. Soldiers may submit applications there for scholarships and the active duty option.

At this website, Soldiers will create a login/password, and then upload their documents. Applicants must complete their entire packets online. Part of the packet is the professor of military science acceptance (PMS) letter. Applicants bring their packets to the Army ROTC program at their desired university, and the recruiting officer will review them and draft the PMS letter.

For more information about Columbus State University's Army ROTC program, contact Crystal Lauver at 706-507-8031 or lauver_crystal@colstate.edu. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Applicants should call ahead to schedule an appointment with the recruiting officer.

Page last updated Wed March 23rd, 2011 at 15:08