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Thread: Direct (civilian) OCS vs. Enlisted OCS - 33 y.o., 34 in August (on the cusp)

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    Default Direct (civilian) OCS vs. Enlisted OCS - 33 y.o., 34 in August (on the cusp)

    Hello,

    (Edit: if preferred, I can bullet-point the questions, making identification and response easier. Just let me know.) I'm glad to have found this forum. I'm sure some of you will have enough experience to give me decent opinions and guidance. I've done some fairly extensive Googling, and have found a few similar threads, but the ones that were really relevant were a bit aged, and my circumstances don't entirely match, anyways. I'll be 34 in August, and I've decided that I really want an Army career. I'd, of course, like to pursue the OCS route, but am concerned about the timing, as it's pretty much 'now or never' for direct (civilian college grad) OCS - supposedly 29, up to 34 with a waiver. Being that a commission can take up to 10 months to receive (per my recruiter), he also gave me the option of entering as enlisted, and told me that my OCS application could be processed quicker that way. Now, I'm considering this option also because from what I've read (and please correct me if I'm wrong!), time in service essentially 'stops the clock' on the age limit; i.e., if I enlist at 34, I wouldn't be bound to the 34 year old age limit, up to 42 years of age. Is this true? A few other questions I have are: is an OCS application (and support from the C.O.) difficult or unlikely to obtain in general (I know that answer may depend on several variables, including me and my C.O.)? Is it easier to be approved than as a civilian? Is an age waiver for OCS difficult to obtain (recruiter says 'no', but I don't want to put 100% faith in him)? I have absolutely no problem being an enlisted soldier, but having spent most of my adult life in school at least part-time, and being 50k deep in student debt, I'd of course like it to eventually pay off in the way of a commission, and would like to know if this is unlikely to happen if I do go the enlisted route.

    About me (maybe you will find this relevant): I have a B.A. (International Relations) and a B.S. (Computer Science), and am finishing my M.S. in December (Computer Science). I have clean credit (not even a 30-day late) and legal (no arrests, last traffic ticket was in 2000) background, am pretty fit (can do about 95 on each of the PFT categories, am ramping it up to shoot for 100), and just scored a 98 on the ASVAB yesterday (percentile score). I am, however, a bit 'old', as noted above, and I also have hardware in my left arm from surgery when I was 14 that limits left forearm extension slightly, and have had rotator cuff surgery to repair a small tear this year. There are no strength issues (can knock the pushups out, and was bench-pressing 315x2 right before the RC surgery), and I was able to obtain a waiver for my arm for USMC right out of high school.

    Thank you in advance!
    Last edited by patricio2626; 06-02-2010 at 12:50 PM.

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    Moderator MSG Glenn's Avatar
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    You might need a waiver for the arm. I suggest you have the family physician or better yet the surgeon give you a letter clearing you. You can present that to your Recruiter but it's soley up to the MEPS Doc. If he clears you with a waiver you might have some difficulty getting one. The Army is granting very few of them these days. Definitely get with a Recruiter fast, though. He might tell you not to even bother trying to enlist at this time. If he's willing to work with you then you have a chance. There is a waiting period after any recent surgery before you'll be allowed to enlist. It's either 6 months or a year, I'm not sure which & it might depend on what sort of surgery you had. There again you'll have to have a clearance from your doctor & have him document it. In any event you need to be truthful about all of your medical history. If not & you're caught out on it it will be considered a fraudulent enlistment & you can be charged with it. If the Army rejects you it's for a good reason.

    Age isn't a factor in your enlistment. You can enlist up to age 42. I went into the Army at age 38 when the limit was 32 but I had 6 years prior service in the Navy & that was subtracted from my age. If you're physically fit & can pass the APFT that's all you have to be concerned with. I went Airborne Infantry after they tried like crazy to talk me out of it until they gave me the PT test. I didn't have to attend Airborne School because I had qualified in the Navy & that was a big help getting Airborne. A refresher course was needed.

    I'm sure your Recruiter has already told you but it's much easier getting to OCS if you enlist with a 09S contract. That gives you regular BCT followed by OCS instead of the enlisted route of going to AIT after basic. OCS will be your AIT. Going in with an OCS contract holds no guartantees as to which field you'll go into. That holds true for all forms of commissioning except perhaps direct commissioning. The needs of the Army will dictate that but you'll be given a chance to list your preferred Areas of Interest.
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    Excellent information, thank you MSG! I have been speaking with a recruiter for a few weeks now, and he seems to think that my issues are likely to be non-issues. We all, however, know the reputation recruiters have (the few spoil it for the many), so I thought that I would seek unbiased opinions from other Army professionals. As for 09S, I believe you are saying that it is easier to obtain a commission from the outside (as a civilian)? I am returning to see the surgeon tomorrow for evaluation and statement of both surgeries. I came across abdomen/eye/ear surgery guidelines, but can't find anything on waiting periods for rotator cuff, so I guess I'll have to go by my recruiter's word on that. My question for age, however, mainly had to do with OCS: if I miss the mark and can't do OCS before age 35 and I enlist (non-officer), do I then really have 6 more years to apply for OCS? I've found contradictory information on this.

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    Moderator MSG Glenn's Avatar
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    Your Recruiter or MPclk2006, a Recruiter onsite here should be able to tell you the age requirements for commissionin as a 2LT. There are also several 2LTs on site that went the OCS route.

    In my opinion, from what I've heard, it's faster to go in with an OCS contract than to put in your packet for OCS after you're aready in. Also, in my opinion again, you're better off going directly from an initial training environment to OCS. It's a similar instructional venue. Just harder & less forgiving as all advanced schools are. The Army wants the best officers they can field & OCS is the beginning of the elimination process. Officers must prove that they can lead & must be just that much better. Don't unduly worry about that, though. Your first assignment after commissioning will be as a platoon Leader. You'll be working with an experienced NCO with an average of 12 years of service. He'll know what to do & his primary job will be to train you by direction of the CO.

    I'd go for then 09S if I were you. If for some reason you fall short at OCS (you won't) then you'll finish your enlistment as an enlisted man & hopefully get into an MOS where you can move up to the NCO ranks & that has Warrant Officers. You can then apply for WOCS.
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    Thank you again for the advice and encouraging words. WO is indeed also appealing. If the posters you mentioned above wish to chime in, that would be appreciated. If not, that's OK; you've given some good information already.

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    Based on your education and background, I will suggest that you go the OCS route now; not apply afterwards because there is no guarantee that you can get an OCS slot once you in (that is competitive within the battalion and you have to go through a board).

    If they give you the runaround about going OCS; then walk and talk to another recruiter.

    That is my advice but if you cant wait for OCS and just enlist based on your financial issues then go for it.
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    Thank you for the (seconded) advice. I don't have any financial issues; I make a good bit more than an O-1 does now, so I will take a hit when enlisting either way (we don't do this for the money, anyways, right?). My point with the student loans was that I would like my education to eventually pay off in the way of a commission; that's all I meant. Based on what I've heard so far, I definitely will press forward with the OCS packet that I have on-hand. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefwarrantofficer View Post
    Based on your education and background, I will suggest that you go the OCS route now; not apply afterwards because there is no guarantee that you can get an OCS slot once you in (that is competitive within the battalion and you have to go through a board).

    If they give you the runaround about going OCS; then walk and talk to another recruiter.

    That is my advice but if you cant wait for OCS and just enlist based on your financial issues then go for it.

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    I am a career-soldier so alot of decisions during my service was to maximize my pension upon retirement. When you are an enlistee new to the military; money is not really a factor but as time rolls on; it will become one (cause the necessities of life might dictate that e.g. children, new home purchase). Soldiers have worked second jobs; became warrants and commissioned officers to make more money.
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    Yes sir, agreed. This is why I really want to eventually see a commission.

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefwarrantofficer View Post
    I am a career-soldier so alot of decisions during my service was to maximize my pension upon retirement. When you are an enlistee new to the military; money is not really a factor but as time rolls on; it will become one (cause the necessities of life might dictate that e.g. children, new home purchase). Soldiers have worked second jobs; became warrants and commissioned officers to make more money.

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    If you want to commission now is your best chance at it. Your age wont be a problem, in my class we had a guy who was 40 or 41 graduate. I believe you will still need a waiver, but the regulation is you have to commission by your 42nd birthday. Someone correct me if I'm wrong or if things have changed. As MSG Glenn said, it is a lot easier to get into OCS as a civilian than as a in-service applicant. As an in service applicant you would need the endorsement of your Chain of Command, which can potentially be difficult.

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