By M. Queiser
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Leaders of the Missouri National Guard and Southeast Missouri State University recently launched the new Show-Me Gold program, an officer training program to instruct and guide new officer recruits.
Beginning at Southeast in the fall of 2013, the program is an opportunity for Missouri residents for professional training and development to become commissioned officers and serve in the Missouri Army National Guard.
Major Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, and Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, recently signed a memorandum of agreement, officially launching the program.
Southeast has had a rich and proud history of military service since before the Civil War and thousands of students have served their country, said Dobbins.
"We are privileged to continue the legacy of producing outstanding military leaders for our state and country," said Dobbins. "This program shows the faith the Missouri National Guard has in other the leadership and the academic and student programs of Southeast Missouri State."
He is looking forward to working with the Guard to develop the program and continue to strengthen the partnership that provides Missourians training and the chance to serve their state and nation, said Dobbins.
The partnership with Southeast also provides the men and women who don the uniform a first class education, said Danner.
"This is a program in which we can ensure the education of the men and women who serve," said Danner. "At the same time they receive the leadership training that makes them good officers in your Missouri National Guard."
Students must meet Southeast's admittance criteria, and once accepted and enrolled Guardsmen interested in the program must apply to become an officer candidate. Along with fulfilling Southeast's regular academic programs and classes, they will also take credit-bearing classroom instruction, leadership courses and laboratories, and physical conditional training.
Upon completion of the four-year program, Guardsmen will graduate and commission as second lieutenants and begin their assignments at their first unit.
"What we hope this program will do is revitalize the officer candidate program and process," said Lt. Col. Larry Crowder, commander of the 27th Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
Traditional officer candidate programs while they provide Guardsmen benefits to attend college and complete their required officer training on their own, Show-Me Gold goes above and beyond by combining education and training into one supportive program.
"For the next four years you can completely focus on your education and leadership development," said Crowder.
While in the program, Guardsmen cannot be deployed, and report to the program's instructors and recruiters as opposed to a unit that could be across the state.
The goal for Show-Me Gold is to educate, nurture and train well-rounded and skilled Guardsmen who bring their talents and knowledge to benefit the Guard as a whole as well as provide the foundation they need to have successful military officer careers through the ranks of captain and beyond, said Crowder.
The program will also strengthen university and the community by allowing the leadership courses to be open to all Southeast students, regardless of whether they enlist in the Missouri National Guard.
"These courses will do a great job for developing student leadership," said Dobbins.
The Missouri National Guard will also provide a full-time instructor faculty position who is commissioned officer, that Danner will nominate to Southeast Provost Ron Rosati and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Francisco Barrios.
Guardsmen interested in attending Southeast and joining the program will be able to take advantage of several funding and scholarship options depending on their military status. Options will vary from being able to take advantage of Federal Tuition Assistance, State Tuition Assistance, and/or Montgomery GI Bill.
Students, and guardsmen, in the program who qualify for any of Southeast's merit-based scholarship will also be eligible to receive 75 percent of their value to be used toward Residence Life room and board costs.
Currently representatives from Southeast and the Guard are working together to choose a facility where the student and instructors can attend classes, conduct study halls
"The university and we hope to find the right place to create a living and learning environment for the program's future students," said Crowder.
It's important to pick a facility that encourages camaraderie and support, said Crowder.
"It's good be surrounded by people with the same goals and give the students the atmosphere that they're in it together and for each other," said Crowder.
Both Missouri National Guard and Southeast Representative are looking forward to the continuing partnership.
"We appreciate the Missouri Army National Guard for bringing this program to our campus," said Dobbins. "We look forward to working with them to develop this program for the citizens of Missouri."
With success at Southeast, the Missouri National Guard hopes to bring the Show-Me GOLD program to other Missouri universities in the future and continue to have a positive influence on generations of students and officers to come.
"Some day in the future students will come through this program and they won't know who we are or what we've done but they'll walk across the stage and receive a diploma and that'll be our reward," said Danner.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/