GREENWOOD, SC – The first cadet sworn in to Lander’s ROTC program at the new Greenwood County Veteran’s Center is also part of the Army’s Green to Gold program, which provides a way for enlisted personnel to finish their college degree and obtain a commission as an officer in the United States Army.
Specialist Gabrielle Wheat has spent the past five years serving her country as a medical lab technician with the 1st Area Medical Laboratory unit stationed out of Aberdeen, MD. About a year ago, she saw an opportunity to complete her college education and receive a commission as an officer.
“The military is always about gaining different experience,” Wheat said prior to the ceremony. “I saw this opportunity to gain some different experience and I ran with it.”
Wheat had to have the recommendation of her command and a plan for completing her degree before she was accepted into the program. She obtained an Associate’s Degree from George Washington University after completing her Army training to become a lab technician.
Wheat is no stranger to the military lifestyle. Her father served four years in the Marine Corps before serving 20 more years in Army. Her mother also served four years in the Army. Both of her mother’s parents also served in the military. She also has a brother who is an officer in the Army and has served in the Middle East.
“I wasn’t really interested in joining the military, honestly,” Wheat said. “But, when I joined, it made sense at that time of my life.”
Wheat will now spend the next two years as a cadet at Lander University earning a degree in sociology before serving another eight years either on active duty, reserve or as part of the National Guard. Lander’s ROTC program is a satellite program of the ROTC program at Presbyterian College. Along with Newberry College, Lander and Presbyterian make up the Scottish Highlander Battalion.
Since the program began in 1919, the program has commissioned 18 General Officers and one Medal of Honor recipient. There are currently 55 contracted cadets and 85 enrolled cadets in the ROTC program, with 19% of those students in the Simultaneous Membership Program with the National Guard or Army Reserves. Wheat is the first member of the Green to Gold program in recent history.