Military & Veterans Life

Cover Story: U.S. Army’s "Green to Gold” Program Offers Incentives and Motivations to Climb the Ranks

U.S. Army’s "Green to Gold” Program

For those looking for a great reason to enter the military, here's an inspirational story that will have you, or someone you know, enlisting today!

There was once a Sergeant and enlisted soldier in the Screaming Eagle 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), and for the purposes of this article, we will call him James. His maternal great-grandfather was a highly decorated WWII regimental commander; his maternal grandfather a Vietnam veteran lieutenant colonel; one uncle was also a Vietnam veteran armored cavalry officer; and another uncle a Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient. 

If James should aspire to follow in the footsteps of his family members as a commissioned officer, one option open to him is a path called "Green to Gold." This story is how the program worked for James, and it might be something for you to consider as well.

James had always wanted to go to college and was an excellent student, but unfortunately, he ran out of money and had to drop out after his second year.  Disillusioned with civilian employment opportunities, he decided to enlist in the United States Army. While not his primary intention to become a career Army officer, James learned that there were educational opportunities open to him within the Army and as a veteran. Enlisting seemed like his best (if not only) option.

It was not long before his company commander identified James as a young soldier having great potential to become an officer. James  was surprised when upon being summoned to his commander's office, he was told he was being offered the opportunity to join "Green to Gold." James qualified for the program because he had already fulfilled some of the requisite requirements. So, embracing this chance to finally get his college degree, James applied to a well-known and private college in Virginia as a full-time student, while still serving in the Army. 

The salary and allowances of his Army rank enabled James to pay for living expenses and incidentals like books. The U.S. Government picked up tuition, while housing and rations on campus were paid for through the allowances accorded to his rank, since he was not assigned to government quarters. He attended classes as any other student and was not required to wear his uniform, which, until several years ago, had been green. When classes were not in session, he assisted the college' s Professor of Military Science and Tactics in his duties in the college's ROTC program. 

James graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in history and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. This was represented by the "gold" bar he wore on his shoulder, his passage from "green to gold" in the United States Army. Based on his desire and the Army's needs, he was assigned to the infantry branch of the Army and was posted to Fort Hood, Texas.

Today, James is serving in Korea and has attained the rank of Captain, having determined to make the Army a career.

There was, however, an important obligation to be fulfilled and a pay-back to the U.S. Government. Since James spent two years completing his college degree funded by the military, he owed the Army additional years. James felt the extra time serving was well worth the commitment, since he received not only an officer's commission, but also a college degree. 

To learn more about your educational options under the Green to Gold Program go to

Editor's Note: This article is not an endorsement. Veterans Advantage has not be paid by the Army or any other party for publishing this article. Our articles are published solely for the purpose of providing interesting and helpful information that is relevant to our community and, in this case, supporting and furthering the careers of those who serve our country.

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