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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

The Service Academies & COVID-19

Uncertainty surrounds the worldwide pandemic. It creates an uncertainty around our futures. In light of this doubt, our flexibility and adaptability are important. If your are an Academy appointee or, a high school junior applying to one of the service academies, then you likely have a bunch of questions.

Fortunately, the US military services and their academies are very flexible. The US Air Force, Army and Navy are able to move quickly and adapt to changing environments. The pandemic and the conditions associated with it provide a challenging environment, but all of us, including the US armed forces, will adapt. In light of a changing world, what should you do?

Simply put, stay the course. The Academies will welcome new freshman this summer. Plus, the Academies will start processing the next 'set' of applicants very shortly, as usual.

For entering freshman, plan on the current arrival dates, but as you might expect, the arrival date may be postponed by a few weeks or a month. We'll see -- for now plan to arrive on the current date as planned. In the meantime, be sure to maintain your fitness. Go outdoors, if possible, and run to maintain, or even improve, your aerobic fitness. Continue doing push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups and other exercises as appropriate. Many appointees have been given a list of 'what' to bring, including the possibility of purchasing combat boots. If so, go ahead with the order or local purchase (if possible!), so that you may wear the boots and start 'breaking' them in. Wetting the boots and then walking in them until they're 'dry' (i.e., "walking them dry" as we used to say) is a good method to soften the leather and allow your boots to form to your feet. Running in the boots is also a great way to prepare for your upcoming summer training.

For high school juniors, you should draft your letters to your local Congressional representative and your two Senators for your state. The Academies provide guidance on what information to place in the letters. Here is a single format that can be used for all of the Academies (except Coast Guard) -- Request Letter Format for Congressional Members. Send the completed letters to all three nomination sources. Plus, there is more to do. But I will leave that to another discussion and another blog.

COVID-19 provides a unique set of challenges. All of us must be vigilant and stay flexible. This focus is especially true for Academy appointees and high school juniors applying to the service academies. 'Stay the course' and prepare for your first day for summer training. It will arrive before you know it!

[If you are a high school junior (or sophomore or freshman), let's talk. I help students prepare for the admissions process for the US Service Academies (i.e., the US Air Force Academy, the US Naval Academy, the US Military Academy, the US Coast Guard Academy and the US Merchant Marine Academy). This year all three of my high school seniors were awarded military scholarships and Academy appointments. You can do the same! -]

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