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Columbus State University offers free Green to Gold briefings on post

If you’re an NCO who is curious about earning your commission, or if you’re a junior enlisted Soldier who has what it takes for leadership in the Army, attend today’s briefing on Green to Gold. Led by Columbus State University’s ROTC, the information session starts at 10 a.m. in Building 2611, Soldiers’ Plaza.

“It is a 30-minute brief on the four options of going ‘Green to Gold,’ the eligibility requirements and the benefits of the program,” said Robin Braeckel, freshmen ROTC instructor.

“I recommend anyone that is interested in becoming an officer attend this brief as well as any NCO that has Soldiers interested in the process. We are not there to try and recruit for Columbus State University and can help a Soldier who wants to attend any college or university.”

The four Green to Gold options are as follows:

the scholarship option

the hip-pocket option

the non-scholarship option

the active-duty option

The first two are the only options for Soldiers who have less than 60 hours of transferable credits, Braeckel said.

“There are two-, three- and four-year scholarships available,” she said. “They are limited and competitive. The active-duty option is the most sought after and most competitive to receive. Soldiers who are selected stay on active duty and keep all of their pay and benefits. They will basically PCS to the university they’ve been accepted to in order to obtain their degree and receive their commission. The application deadline for this board is April 1. The packet is filled out and submitted online, but we can assist and review the packet for the Soldier.”

Cadet Peter Blickhahn, who signed up for the active-duty option in 2010, said without that route it “wouldn’t have happened” for him.

As a staff sergeant, Blickhahn already had 90 credit hours but, with four kids at home, he couldn’t take time off from active duty for school, because of pay concerns.

“This definitely makes it easier,” he said. “I am a full-time student, (and) I still have a paycheck coming in.”

Blickhahn said his time at CSU has helped prepare him for his future career as an officer.

“Overall, it’s an awesome opportunity to develop yourself as a leader,” he said. “Anything you can learn about people and the world around you is going to make you a better leader.”

Blickhahn, a senior cadet, was the battalion commander last semester. Now he trains other cadets for the final assessment they’ll take at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

“Our senior cadets run our program,” Braeckel said. “This prepares them for the demands and responsibility they will soon face as new platoon leaders.”

Of the 118 cadets in the Cougar Battalion, six are Green to Gold cadets and two of those were awarded the active-duty option, she said.

“Last year, there were over 1,000 Soldiers applying for the active-duty option; 150 were selected,” the instructor said. “The scholarships are slightly less competitive and the non-scholarship needs only the approval of the Soldier’s battalion commander.”

Sorting out the details is something potential students can take care of at the briefing, where ROTC representatives can answer individual questions Soldiers may have, she said.

Blickhahn said he recommended Green to Gold for other enlisted Soldiers if they were prepared for the challenge. Academic performance plays a big role in what job a person is assigned to after graduation, he said.

“It’s always a hard transition trying to go from enlisted to officer. It’s not just for anybody,” Blickhahn said. “You have to come in understanding that at the end of it you’re here to be an officer. The only way you can make that happen is by taking control of your grades and putting in the effort. You get out of it what you put into it.”

Blickhahn is slated to graduate in May with an exercise science degree. He’ll PCS to Fort Rucker, Ala., for flight school, where he’ll train for his new career as a helicopter pilot.

“That’s a pretty big transition for me,” he said. “I’ve been Infantry my entire enlisted career.”

The program at CSU has advantages being near Fort Benning, Blickhahn said, such as being able to visit the installation for training.

“Most people in the program are prior service or have Family members in,” he said. “The level of experience in the battalion is incredible.”

For more information about Green to Gold, log on to

If you miss today’s brief, there’ll be other opportunities. Briefings are held the third Wednesday of every month at the same time and place. For more information, contact the ROTC recruiter, Phillip Benefield, at 706-507-8031 or

GO GOLDWhat do I need?» Demonstrated leadership qualities» An interest in becoming an Army officer» A GT score of 110 or higher» More than two years of active duty on your initial enlistment» U.S. citizenship» No flags or profiles on your record» Favorable recommendations from your chain of command

How do I find out more?» Attend today’s Green to Gold Briefing at 10 a.m. in Building 2611, Soldiers’ Plaza.» Visit