What is an Army Officer?

What is an Army Officer?  What does he/she bring to a civilian employer?


I’ve been a US Army officer for over fifteen years.  I joined the civilian workforce in May of 2015.  There was very little transition for me.  I am what is referred to in the Army as “institutionalized,” and that isn’t a bad thing.  I’ve been in so long that my frame of thinking about almost anything is rooted in my training as an Army officer.  I think in acronyms and the military phonetic alphabet.  But, so what, right?  How does that make me an asset to a civilian employer?  What skill set, education, training, and transferable skills do I bring to the table?


Many people do not know this, but there are several regulations (the Army has regulations for practically everything) that outline the requirements for being a commissioned officer in the US Army, as well as unique skill sets that each ranks and branch of the Army (not everyone in the Army is required to carry a weapon and “close with and destroy the enemy in close combat”) must possess in order to advance or specialize in a career field.
The Army is definitely like no other organization (except other military professions).  We have our unique personnel structure, specialized equipment, and processes.  We even have our own code of justice.  But those differences are what allow us to bring a vast array of skills to the civilian workforce.  We have our own lawyers, doctors, mechanics, logisticians, operational specialists, public relations, and information technology specialists.


As an Army Public Affairs officer, when I transitioned out of the military, I found myself struggling to translate my skills to a recruiter.  Forget trying to do the same for a civilian employer.  I have training and skills that I can apply to virtually every job in the civilian market, as well as specialized training in my career field.


The manager (who has never had any exposure to the military) at my current civilian employer asked me one day, “what do you do for the Army?”  I struggled to explain it to him in a way he would understand, and how it was applicable to what we do.  It was then that I decided I would improve myself in this communication, and I also figured, go big or go home!  So, I decided to start this blog, share it with a wider audience, and open myself up for comment and/or criticism.  If my experiences are unique to me, then no one will read this.  I hope that I am not alone in my struggle, and that this blog will open up the opportunity for Soldiers to have some means of communicating their value to potential civilian employers.  It is also an opportunity for me to communicate directly to Human Resource professionals the unique value that Soldiers bring to their organizations.


So, what are some of the basic requirements for a commissioned officer in the US Army?  According to Army Regulation (AR) 601-100, Appointment of Commissioned and Warrant Officers in the Regular Army, they have to be able to complete twenty years of service before turning sixty-two, have a baccalaureate degree, have good moral character, be loyal to the US, have no civil convictions, obtain and maintain a SECRET security clearance, not be a conscientious objector, meet medical and fitness standards, and above all, be a citizen of the United States.


So what, right?  What does that mean for all the non-military people out there reading this?  Well, it means that when you get an Army officer, you get someone who is:

  • One of the 33% of the US population with a Baccalaureate degree or higher
  • One of the 12% of the US population with a Master’s degree or higher
  • Medically fit to work in the United States
  • Physically fit
  • Guaranteed to be employable
  • A loyal employee
  • Has good moral character



Army Officers swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution”?  This is to signify that they are bound to follow moral, ethical, and legal orders, but also to refuse to follow orders that are contrary to what is in the Constitution of the United States, regardless of who issues them – including the President of the United States.


From my 15 years as an Army officer, I have had the privilege of serving with some of the most upstanding, trustworthy, and loyal men and women this country has to offer.  These citizens eventually transition out of the Army and will join the ranks of corporate America.  They will bring an amazing work ethic to any culture they join.  They will be able to work in any team you place them.  They will be some of the most respectful people you have ever met.   They are an amazing group of people that you can count on, no matter what.


If you want to read more about the oath of office for an officer, click here.  A good resource for understanding moral leadership in the military can be found here.  Finally, the stats above can be found here.


I hope this has been informative, and whetted your thirst for understanding what Army officers bring to the table.  I will be bringing you an introduction to the various Army branches of service, their skills and requirements over the next couple of months.  Stay tuned!


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