The Journey from Enlisted to Officer
When thinking about a career as an enlisted military member several key points probably come to mind; evaluations, advancement, education and maybe even the idea of becoming an officer.
Seaman to Admiral-21 (STA-21) and Officer Candidate School (OCS) are just two of the eight commissioning programs listed on the Navy Personnel Command website.
“Everyone knows about STA-21. That’s a big one,” said Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Command Career Counselor Chief Navy Counselor Troy Beard. “Don’t just look at the big ones. Look at what else you could do as far as becoming officer. There are quite a few options.”
Other programs include U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS), Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP), Medical Service Corps In-service Procurement Program (MSC/IPP), Uniformed Services University, Limited Duty Officer and Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO), and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. OPNAVINST 1420.1B provides details regarding each program and the Navy Personnel Command website offers other websites and
instructions regarding the individual programs.
According to OPNAVINST 1420.1B, OCS is an initial commissioning program for individuals possessing at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. MECP, a Nurse Corps (NC), provides a pathway for active duty enlisted personnel of all ratings who possess some college credit to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing and ultimately a commission in the NC.
MSC/IPP provides candidates with a qualifying degree or those who have some college credit applicable towards an advanced degree, the opportunity to complete their degree and receive direct appointments to the MSC.
The LDO and CWO programs provide commissioning opportunities to qualified Chief Petty Officers (CPOs) (E7 through E9), E6 personnel who are eligible and CWOs (applying for lieutenant junior grade).
STA-21 is an opportunity for highly motivated active duty enlisted personnel to complete requirements for a baccalaureate degree and earn a commission as an unrestricted line, NC, supply corps, civil engineer corps or special duty officer.
Intensive instruction and preparation for the academic, military and physical training of the USNA is provided by the NAPS program.
USNA offers an opportunity for qualified young men and women to embark on careers as officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.
“When a Sailor comes into our office and they are inquiring about commissioning programs one of the first things we ask them as career counselors is, ‘have you read the instruction?’” said Beard. “What we normally recommend before they even talk to us, is reading OPNAVINST 1420.1B. Their level of knowledge really tells us how much interest they have in the programs.”
The next step is reading the NAVADMIN for the program you want to apply for and keeping track of the deadline for your application package.
“Really read through the instruction,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Samuel Theodoris, who was recently selected for the Limited Duty Officer program. “Don’t just scan it, read it and comprehend what the instruction is asking for.”
Theodoris recommends having several people look over your application package, including people who have applied for the program, community members of the area you are going into and your chain of command.
“The biggest thing is attention to detail,” said Beard. “Read the instruction and read the NAVADMIN that comes out for that specific program. The NAVADMIN will get down to the nitty gritty of what to do.”
Beard also suggests taking the time to really think out the personal statement portion of the package. Focus on what attributes and motivation that you have for becoming an officer and more importantly what you can offer to the Navy.
If Sailors have issues with understanding the instructions and admins or need some extra feedback regarding a package, visiting the command career counselor or speaking with others who have applied for the program are great
“Go to the career counselor and ask for help,” said Theodoris. “There is nothing wrong with asking for help.”
For more information and links regarding commissioning programs please visit here.