How Does the Army ROTC Program Work?
The US Military’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is a system through which many college students can pursue an undergraduate education while conducting military training that prepares them for a period of service as a commissioned military officer. According to the US Army, “The overall mission of the Army ROTC Program is to produce commissioned officers in the quality, quantity, and academic disciplines necessary to meet active Army and reserve component requirements.”1 Army ROTC includes a chain of command starting with a Commanding General and going down through a Battalion Commander and Professor of Military Science (PMS) to individual cadets.
Enrollment in ROTC is voluntary. Some students will take ROTC classes because it interests them, yet have no obligation to continue military service. Other students, such as ROTC scholarship recipients, will be required to sign a contract at the commencement of their scholarship. The goal of many ROTC cadets is to graduate from their respective colleges and secure a commission as an officer in the US Military at approximately the time of their college graduation.
Can I Disenroll From the Army ROTC?
The US Army lists 16 different reasons a cadet may be disenrolled from ROTC. A scholarship or a non-scholarship cadet may be dismissed for one of the following:
- To receive an appointment or enter into an officer training program other than ROTC
- To receive training under an Army Medical Department program
- At cadet’s own request
- Withdrawal or dismissal from the attending academic institution
- Medical disqualification
- Failure to maintain required GPA
- Personal hardship
- Height/weight or physical fitness test failures
- For being an approved conscientious objector
- Dismissal from advanced camp training
- Positive drug urinalysis or alcohol abuse
- Inaptitude for military service
- Undesirable character
- Indifferent attitude
- Breach of contract.
CC Pam 145-4, PMS Guide for Enrollment, Retention, and Disenrollment is a good reference to better understand why cadets should or should not be disenrolled. That regulation describes what actions ROTC Battalion Commanders and PMS should take when disenrollment is required, including information on how to notify cadets and appoint a board of officers when necessary.2
Can I Appeal A Dismissal From the Army ROTC?
The US Army gives cadets the right to appeal their dismissal to a panel of officers.3 Importantly, each cadet has a right to appear personally before the board or officer when considered for disenrollment. A cadet may be assisted in this hearing by any “reasonably available military officer” or by a civilian attorney at the cadet’s expense. The Army limits an attorney’s representation in such an appeal by stating: “The counsel may not represent the cadet at the hearing, although counsel may be available to give advice.”4 The purpose of the board is to allow the cadet to present his or her case and allow the officer or panel of officers to recommend an outcome to the Commanding General of US Army ROTC Cadet Command (ROTCCC) for a final decision.
What Is the Appeal Process for An Army ROTC Disenrollment Decision?
The appeal strategy will differ based on the reason for the disenrollment cited by the Army. For example, if disenrolled for a height/weight or physical fitness test failure, the cadet should read the Army Regulation that specifies the Army’s Weight Control Program and Physical Fitness Test requirements. The regulations specify what actions are required to remediate failures. Thus, a cadet that fails one of those only one time, should not be subject to dismissal. Some Professors of Military Science who are good at their job will only dismiss ROTC cadets that clearly failed to comply with Army regulations. Others may be a bit trigger happy on the dismissal decision and not follow the requirements of all applicable regulations. Pointing out that the Army has failed to follow the appropriate regulations in the specific case of the cadet at issue is a successful appeal strategy in many cases.
An appeal will proceed like a court hearing, except a cadet may not have an attorney advocate on his/her behalf. Most cadets should prepare an opening statement arguing why the Army’s decision to dismiss is erroneous. A cadet may then call favorable witnesses to testify on his/her behalf. After the witnesses testify, the cadet should use a closing argument to discuss why the evidence presented shows that the Army’s decision to dismiss is erroneous.
After the hearing, the Officer or panel of Officers presiding will write a memorandum of record to the Cadet Command with a recommendation. This recommendation will next be forwarded to the Cadet’s PMS for a recommendation. Ultimately, the Commanding General of ROTCCC or his designee will make a final decision on whether the Cadet is disenrolled. The Commanding General’s decision is final. There are no further rights to an appeal.
What Are the Potential Outcomes of An Army ROTC Disenrollment Appeal?
Army scholarship ROTC cadets may have a huge amount at stake during appeals. Disenrollment may mean owing the Army all scholarship payments here-to-fore received, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, disenrolled scholarship students may be involuntarily ordered to active duty within 60 days after they have or would have completed their baccalaureate degree requirements. A successful disenrollment appeal will result in continued cadet status and the potential to commission as an Active Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard Officer.
A military law attorney can be of value to you in a potential ROTC dismissal appeal. Nashville Attorney Paul Tennison has served our country for over a decade as an active duty Army and Army National Guard officer. Paul has successfully represented Tennessee service members in numerous military law matters, including ROTC dismissal appeals. If you need an experienced attorney to advocate for you, call Cole Law today at 615-490-6020 to explore how Paul Tennison can help you navigate, litigate, and/or resolve your military law matter.
Army Regulation 145-1
US Army Cadet Command Regulation 145-1
US Army Cadet Command Regulation 145-9
CC Pam 145-4, PMS Guide for Enrollment, Retention, and Disenrollment
1 Army Regulation 145-1 paragraph 1-5.
2 CC PAM 145-4 paragraph 6-2.
3 AR 145-1 paragraph 3-43(b).