Recently, thousands of young men and women across Kansas hurled their college mortar boards into the air, signaling the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another. Three of these graduates received something in addition to their academic degree: a commission as a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps and a position in the Kansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 635th Armor Regiment.
2nd Lt. Joshua Wilson enlisted in the Guard in 2017 after high school, signing up through the Simultaneous Membership Program, which allows enrollees to earn more than $1,200 per month plus full tuition assistance while participating in an Army ROTC program.
“One of the great things about the Simultaneous Membership Program is it counts for time in service, so I have almost five years already,” said
Wilson, who received a degree in criminology from Kansas State University. He said his goal is to get a law degree and start a private practice while serving in the Kansas National Guard.
2nd Lt. Matthew Ashwell also enlisted in 2017 through the SMP at K-State. “I knew I always had aspirations to lead,” said Ashwell. “ROTC seems like the best way to get an education and become an Army officer.”
Ashwell also plans to make the Kansas Army National Guard a career.
“I’m ready to start working as an officer,” he said. “I’m ready to take that next step forward.”
When 2nd Lt. Anthony Swanson joined the ROTC at University of Kansas, he already had served in the active-duty Army in Alaska and in the Air Guard.
“I joined ROTC because I wanted to advance my career in the Army,” said Swanson, who joined the 635th as an armor officer. He called being a tank platoon leader “the best and most rewarding job in the Army.”
“I want to be a leader and it’s the most direct leadership position,” he said. “It requires you to be adaptable to any situation.”
As with Wilson and Ashwell, Swanson came to the Guard through the Simultaneous Membership Program.
“I would strongly encourage it to anyone interested in joining,” said Swanson.