The Army Green to Gold Program: My Experience

Today, I want to take some time and talk to you about the Army’s Green to Gold program.  I’ll explain what the program is, how it works, and talk about my own experience in the program.

What is the Army Green to Gold Program?

The Army’s Green to Gold Program is a program that allows young Soldiers to return to college and earn a commission as an officer.  Soldiers can apply for a 2, 3, or 4 year full scholarship, or they can participate in the program without a scholarship.  Students attend an ROTC program until they graduate with their Bachelor’s Degree.  Once they graduate, they earn their commission and then have a military obligation in either the Active Duty, National Guard or Army Reserves.

How it Works

If you meet the requirements to participate in the Green to Gold program, you must find a school with an ROTC program.  You apply to the college and ROTC program.  You need endorsements from your chain of command, along with some additional paperwork.  Here are the requirements to enter the program.  If you are accepted into the program you are discharged from the Army as an enlisted Soldier.

You can choose the scholarship or non-scholarship option.  The differences between the two options are significant.  You attend college full-time until you graduate.  While you are in college, you take your regular classes and your ROTC classes. At the end of your junior year, in the summer, you attend an advanced course at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Some students serve in the Simultaneous Membership Program where they get to train in an Army Reserve or National Guard unit while they are in college.  They train with a local unit one weekend a month and get paid as an E-5.  Some students do not do this.

Once you graduate, you have an obligation to fulfill.  I believe it is three years for non-scholarship students and four years for scholarship students.

My Story

My story dates back to the summer of 1998.  At the time, I was a 71L (Administrative Specialist) enlisted Soldier in the Old Guard.  I had been in the unit about two years.  I really enjoyed the unit and wanted to advance my career.  I quickly realized that my chances of ever making Sergeant in my MOS were next to impossible.  All of my buddies were getting promoted to Sergeant with very low promotion points, but in my MOS, the points were always at the MAX, just to make E-5.

As a result, I knew I had to make a career change.  I could either reclassify and get a new MOS, or go the officer route.  I was very fortunate to have several officer mentors.  I really looked up to and admired these officers.  I figured that going the officer route would be my best option.

One day, out of the blue, I was at the education office taking CLEP tests and one of the counselors told me about the Green to Gold program and the OCS program.  At the time, I knew nothing about either program.

I considered OCS, but to be quite frank with you, I really wanted to enjoy the college experience.  I wanted to party, have fun, and be social.  I had a little more than two years worth of college credits and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish my degree in a timely manner if I went the OCS route.  So, I decided that the Green to Gold program was the best option for me.

The education office counselor gave me a book of colleges in America with ROTC programs.  I closed my eyes, opened up a random page in the book, put my finger down, and it landed on Clarkson University.  It was completely random and I had never heard of the college before. I believed it was fate to land on that page, so I made the decision to attend that school.  I know this is hard to believe, but it’s the truth.

I shared my intentions with my NCO Support Channel and my chain of command.  They were all very supportive and typed up the required paperwork and endorsements for me.  Within a few weeks, I applied to college (SUNY Potsdam) and to the Clarkson ROTC program.  I was accepted into the program within one or two months.

Within another month or two I was chaptered out of the Army (chapter for a commission) and I ETS’d from the Active Duty Army.  From there, I made the drive to upstate New York, found an apartment to live in, and started school.

Because I did some night classes, and lots of CLEP tests, while I was in the Old Guard, I already had two plus years of college done.  I started the Green to Gold program at Clarkson University in January 1999 and received a waiver to complete the program in just three semesters.  My college experience and ROTC experience was fun and memorable.

While I was in college, I received my GI Bill, a monthly stipend, E-5 pay for participating in the Simultaneous Membership Program, and unemployment.  One weekend a month, I served in an infantry battalion as a cadet.  At the end of my junior year, I completed advanced camp at Fort Lewis, Washington.  Upon graduating in May 2000 I received my Bachelor’s Degree and commission in the Quartermaster Corps.

Final Thoughts

The Army’s Green to Gold program is really awesome.  It’s a great way to earn your commission, get college paid for, and become a leader.  To this day, I highly recommend this program to anyone who is serving as an enlisted Soldier and wants to become an officer.  I think it is a great alternative to the OCS program.

If you’ve spent any time in the Green to Gold program, I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below to share your story.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “The Army Green to Gold Program: My Experience”

  1. Is this program available with all universities that have ROTC, or is it just a select few?

    I would think that every enlisted soldier that has this opportunity would be ignorant if they did not take advantage of it. We all must consider our future, and this program will help you have a future that is less stressful and can lead to a great career after Army service.

    I hope the Army keeps the Green to Gold program going even with all the budget cuts.

  2. The Green to Gold Program sounds like one of the wisest choices anyone who is in the service, and wants to attend college and get further in their career. I see what it did for you Chuck. I don’t know if that program was in affect back in the 80’s when I was enlisted. If it was, I kick myself for not taking advantage of it.

    I highly recommend this to anyone who is now in the Reserves or Guard and wants to move up the ladder. I really don’t know why anyone would dare pass something like this program up. If you are enlisted, I suggest you look into this.

  3. Theresa Williams

    I had not heard of the Green to Gold program before even though I have several friends who did ROTC throughout college and then joined the service upon graduation. This sounds like a great option to not only get an education but to advance your career. I think it sounds especially good in that it forces you to think about your future and what you want to happen– too many in the military or in the regular college experience are not thinking of that but rather only the right now.

  4. I love the Green to Gold program. In fact my college is currently working to add this to our ROTC program. I work closely with military affairs at my school and I can not tell you how many kids I have seen come in to our office so uncertain about their future. They begin this process and by the end they are completely different people. They are stronger, braver, wiser, more equipped for their futures. I encourage everyone considering this program to attempt it because I have seen so many benefits from it.

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