On Saturday, Aug. 3, some two dozen University of North Georgia cadets will take part in commissioning ceremonies, accompanied by instructors, family members, fellow cadets and mentors. It is an important day in what will become a career for many. Capt. Nathan Wilson, who is a military science instructor for freshmen cadets at UNG and serves as a Georgia National Guard liaison officer for cadets, talks about the ceremony.
What is the purpose of the commissioning ceremony and what does it involve?
The commissioning ceremony is the culmination of years of study and effort that results in a cadet becoming a commissioned officer and marks the transition from officer trainee to a leader of soldiers. The most significant part of the ceremony is when each cadet takes the commissioning oath and swears "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same... and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter." This is a weighty responsibility, but after being trained, assessed, and vetted for years, the newly minted lieutenants are up to the task.
What is the significance of the "Silver Dollar Salute?"
Though typically long on excitement and energy, new lieutenants are usually short on experience. The U.S. Army pairs its officers with experienced sergeants who mentor and guide the young officers. This pairing of officer with sergeant to accomplish missions will continue throughout the officer's career and the Silver Dollar Salute symbolizes this relationship. In the 18th century, officers were provided an extra dollar a month to pay the sergeant who was mentoring them. Though this tradition has long passed, the symbolic tradition continues. A newly commissioned officer presents a sterling silver dollar to the first enlisted person to salute him or her in remembrance of this tradition.
What's next for a cadet after commissioning and graduation?
After commissioning and graduation, the new second lieutenants typically have a few months to wait before attending a branch-specific Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) where they will learn the skills needed in their area of expertise. Some will become infantrymen, some cavalry officers, some logisticians, some aviators; all branches are represented by UNG graduates. After completion of BOLC, which takes four to 18 months depending on the branch, those lieutenants commissioned to active military duty will go to their units of assignment stationed at Army posts all over the world. National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve officers will return to their hometowns to take positions in local units and potentially use their leadership skills in their local communities.