Show-Me Gold takes on National Guard drill format
Monday, April 8, 2019
Screenshot by Rebecca Gangemella ~ Multimedia Editor
Since its inception in 2013, the Show-Me Gold program at Southeast has spread out its drill requirements throughout the week. However, starting in January, the program decided to condense the 16-hour weekly drill components into one weekend a month, which is how the Missouri National Guard conducts its drill.
Previously, the officer candidates would do their Physical Training (PT) three mornings a week, National Guard courses two afternoons a week plus a three-to five-hour lab session one day a week.
Under the new format, the candidates will continue to complete Field Training Exercise (FTX) for three or four days twice a year and an annual two weeks of training during the summer.
Lt. Crystal Cecil, the Officer in Charge for the Show-Me Gold program, describes the previous method as a more of an ROTC approach to drill. She said the goal of the switch was an attempt to save the soldier’s time.
“We were having some problems with retention,” Cecil said. “For them, having to separate out their time and come multiple times during the week, that was putting a lot of stress on them.”
A lot of candidates told Cecil it would be easier on them to complete everything they needed in a monthly weekend drill rather than spreading it out during the week.
One problem she foresees is drill weekends interfering with studying for upcoming exams.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Cecil said.
The faculty at Southeast have been flexible with the candidates. Cecil can write a memo to a candidate’s professor asking for extended study time if a test conflicts with drill weekend and get them an extra day of studying.
“Southeast Missouri State University is very military-friendly,” she said.
She also said some of the older candidates are adjusting to a new Officer in Charge on top of adjusting to the new format.
Officer candidate Elizabeth Sweet is a fan of the National Guard drill format.
“I’ve seen a lot of change throughout the years I’ve been here, and with seeing something that I know is going to help the candidates and myself for the most part, for that to actually develop, it’s pretty interesting seeing how it works,” she said.
Sweet said the program knocked out so much during the first drill in January because they had more time to prepare.
By making the change, Cecil hopes it will relieve some stress on the senior-level candidates who are in their tougher major courses. However, it will take a few semesters to decide if the National Guard drill format is more beneficial than the ROTC format.
Monitoring GPA and PT scores are two of the metrics Cecil plans on using to analyze the effect of the National Guard drill format on the candidates.
Out of the four Show-Me Gold programs in the state, two of them have made the change. Sweet believes the other two schools should consider switching formats, but Southeast’s Show-Me Gold program is still figuring things out.
“This is still very new,” she said. “But with the logistics, we work with, the admin and the classes, we can accomplish a lot just doing the drill [one weekend a month].”