The Fast Track to Becoming a Second Lieutenant
Military junior colleges are providing a unique opportunity for young cadets. By enrolling in the Early Commissioning Program (ECP), cadets are placed on the fast track to becoming commissioned officers in the United States Army.
By completing the ECP, qualified cadets may be commissioned as second lieutenants in two years rather than four. Some schools also cover 100 percent of participating cadets’ tuition, room and board. After completing the two-year program and earning their associate degree, ECP second lieutenants go on to complete their education at a four-year institution while simultaneously serving in the Army National Guard or U.S. Army Reserves. After earning their bachelor’s degree, officers have the choice of continuing to serve in the National Guard or Reserves, or they may switch to active duty.
“The program is fantastic,” said Karen Fluck, recruiting operations officer for Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “It feeds all of our Services, especially the Reserves and Army National Guard, with officers.”
Cadets joining the ECP must be focused and determined, as the program is both academically and physically demanding. It is designed to tests students’ skills and dedication.
“They get quality, intense training,” Fluck explained. “They are at a small school that has a focus first on academics and second on ROTC, versus other distractions they might get at another school.”
In addition to top-notch training and education, while enrolled in the program, cadets have the opportunity to take advantage of scholarships, technical training, access military events and more.
“There are a lot of financial and educational benefits,” said Jason Garcia, recruiting operations officer for the New Mexico Military Institute ECP. “There’s also life experience, physical fitness and getting a leg up on your peers because you are accelerating your career by two years.”
Garcia graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute’s ECP in 1995 and attributes much of his personal and professional success to the program.
“The [ECP] has given me a lot of experience that I would not have had otherwise,” he said. “It’s provided me with a structure and framework to be successful [with] things like time management, developing leadership skills and confidence.”
Garcia recommends individuals interested in the program take a tour of a military junior college. While each college’s ECP is similarly structured, its campus environment is unique.
“We encourage folks to visit and experience the campus to get a feel for what the cadets are like and what their daily schedules are like,” Garcia noted.
The ECP is offered at Georgia Military College, Marion Military Institute, New Mexico Military Institute and Valley Forge Military Academy and College.
For more information about each college’s ECP requirements or to find out how to apply, contact:
Georgia Military College
Marion Military Institute
New Mexico Military Institute
Valley Forge Military College
By Staff Writer Tatyana White-Jenkins