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Julius R. Kelley III, Austin Peay State University scholarship and enrollment officer, gives a briefing about the Green to Gold Active Duty Option Scholarship program, Jan. 28, at the APSU Center-Fort Campbell. The window to submit applications is June-November and in December the U.S. Army Cadet Command Board makes its selections that are announced each January. This year 19 Fort Campbell Soldiers were selected to participate in the program, of those five are assigned to the 531st Hospital Center, the most of any unit on post. (Stephanie Ingersoll/Fort Campbell Courier) 

Specialist Marcos Quinones is only 21, but he knows what he wants. Quinones wants to be an officer in the Army. 

As one of five Soldiers from the 531st Hospital Center recently accepted into the Green to Gold program, he will soon be one step closer to getting his bachelor’s degree and making his dream a reality.

“One day when I was a young private, I had dream I was an officer,” Quinones said. “I woke up with a great feeling.”

His wife, an ROTC student at Austin Peay State University, encouraged Quinones to focus on his education and he took classes in his spare time but wanted to attend fulltime. The Green to Gold active duty scholarship he won will allow Quinones to still be a Soldier while attending college fulltime.

After he graduates, Quinones will return to duty – hopefully with a commission.

“I want to make the rank of general, whatever it takes,” he said. 

Green to Gold offers several options, but the active-duty option is aimed at providing active-duty enlisted Soldiers an opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree or a two-year graduate degree and earn a commission, said Julius R. Kelley III, APSU scholarship and enrollment officer.

But getting the opportunity requires commitment. Nationwide, the Army’s Green to Gold program is very competitive, so those who want the opportunity must focus on their grade point averages, physical fitness scores and follow the application process, Kelley said.

Last year, 40 active-duty Soldiers from Fort Campbell submitted application packets, he said.

“Out of those 40, we got 19 selected,” Kelley said. “Armywide, they selected 398 active-duty Soldiers to do the program. Having 19 from here, that’s real good.”

Although the applicants came from a variety of companies and units, 531st Hospital Center likely had the most. Soldiers do not have to attend APSU, but most do, because of its proximity to Fort Campbell, Kelley said.

Sergeant First Class James Tate, 586th Field Hospital, 531st Hospital Center, has long dreamed of being an officer because he enjoys being a leader and thinks he can make a bigger impact on Soldiers.

Tate had two recommendations to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007 and 2008, but that didn’t work out so he enlisted instead.

“It was a goal of mine to become an officer early on,” Tate said. “Now, I’ve hit that mid-career point. I wanted a change in my career path.”

With his wife, Sgt. 1st Class Jenna Tate, getting close to retiring from the Army, it seemed like the ideal time to try. Tate applied and was selected for one of the scholarships, which will allow him to prepare for his future in the Army while taking a break from his regular duties.

His wife is set to retire six months after Tate hopes to get his commission in May 2022.

Tate hasn’t settled on his course of study, but is leaning toward a bachelor’s degree in personnel management and administration supervision. He looks forward to putting those skills to use for the Army and making it his career.

“I would like to attain the rank of major,” Tate said.

Becoming a full-time student will give Tate time to focus on his coursework more than he could as a part-time student, while also maintaining his pay and benefits and spending more time with his Family. As for the Army, they’ll get an officer who has served in many roles including drill sergeant and operations NCO, he said.

“They’re getting new talent but someone with experience,” Tate said. “You can’t put a value on experience.”

Kelley offers an informational briefing about the Green to Gold program 10 a.m. the first Tuesday of every month in Room 203 at the APSU Center-Fort Campbell. 

During the briefing Kelley discusses information about who qualifies, how the program works and who is eligible. 

He also has an office in the Staff Sgt. Glenn H. English Army Education Center, Room 216, and is available during office hours beginning 1 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.

The window to submit applications is June-November and in December the U.S. Army Cadet Command Board makes its selections that are announced each January, Kelley said.

Specialist Raymon Behlmer, 531st Hospital Center, is a 20-year-old medic who has big plans and the Green to Gold Active Duty Option Scholarship will help him achieve his goals, he said.

“I had a plan that I wanted to become enlisted first and then have [the Army] pay for my school and become an officer,” Behlmer said. “I got lucky.”

After he earns a bachelor’s degree through Bowling Green State University, Behlmer hopes to become a commissioned officer and then apply for the Health Profession scholarship program.

“My plan for the future is to try to become a doctor for the Army,” he said. “I see myself as an ER doctor for the Army, hopefully able to deploy and help people overseas.”

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