By Spc. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.May 24, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas-Commissioned officers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, offered insight on the U.S. Army officer corps to University of Texas at Austin Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets at the school's campus, April 30.
The "Black Jack" officers, from various branches, provided the cadets firsthand accounts on some of the careers they would have to choose from. U.S. Army officer cadets approaching graduation from a commissioning source must choose from one of the basic officer branches they will want to enter upon becoming a second lieutenant.
"We typically coordinate a branch orientation event once a year, usually toward the end of the spring semester," said Cadet Travis Siemion, an Austin, Texas, native. "It really serves multiple purposes for our cadets."
Siemion explained that it was an opportunity for freshmen and sophomore cadets to familiarize themselves with the more than a dozen basic officer branches and receive a basic understanding of the typical duties and responsibilities of officers in each branch. It also helped juniors to rank order the branches they would like to commission into. Each cadet's request of which basic branch they would like to serve in is listed in order of preference.
Although many of the cadets are already familiar with the branches they are interested in, the training still provided them with a useful opportunity.
The event offered cadets the chance to network with active members of their desired branch and ask questions about assignments, schools, basic officer leadership and any other unanswered questions they may have, according to Siemion.
For one "Black Jack" officer, the event was a homecoming of sorts.
1st Lt. Matthew Burgoon, a Plano, Texas native, spent four years in the UT Austin ROTC program, and personally benefited from his own branch orientation days.
According to Burgoon, events like this really help young cadets who don't know what the Army is about or what jobs it has to offer. Because ROTC is competitive, not every cadet is going to get the branch they want, so it gives them something to shoot for and a reason to try to be more successful.
Burgoon also had a more personal reason for making the trip.
"These guys are going to be platoon leaders when I'm a company commander," he said. "By doing this, we're giving back to ourselves."