Being disenrolled from ROTC is a serious and often life-changing matter. If actually disenrolled, you may be required to repay the U.S. government many thousands of dollars for the scholarship and other benefits provided to you and/or ordered to active duty against your will. Either outcome may have devastating ramifications to your life plans and career goals. If you have been referred or are pending disenrollment, Contact John L. Calcagni now at (401) 351-5100.
About the ROTC and Disenrollment
The various branches of military service offer a college recruiting program known as the Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC. These programs exist for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Each college or university differs with respect to the availability of ROTC and branch of service offered. ROTC offers scholarship and other financial benefits to college students enrolled full-time in exchange for a defined term military service obligation. Those who successfully complete ROTC are commissioned as military officers upon graduation.
Students who apply for and receive ROTC scholarships are administered the oath of office for appointment into the military. These students, known as cadets, also sign a complex contract that sets forth the benefits they receive as cadets, as well as the requirements they must meet to receive the benefits. The contract also outlines the term of the agreed-upon military service obligation. Cadets on scholarship are required to maintain certain academic standards; adhere to military physical fitness, height and weight requirements; attend and complete certain military training; and adhere to military standards of moral, ethical and lawful conduct. These terms are also outlined by the ROTC contract.
ROTC cadets who fail to meet contract requirements may be referred for disenrollment. Disenrollment is the procedural mechanism for terminating a Cadet’s scholarship benefits and removing him from the ROTC program. Cadets may be referred for disenrollment for failing to maintain minimum required semester or cumulative grade point averages (G.P.A.); failure to meet requirements for weight control or physical fitness; for being an approved conscientious objector; personal hardship; if a condition is discovered that will later bar Cadet from becoming a commissioned officer; inaptitude for military service; undesirable character or unethical conduct; indifferent attitude or lack of interest in military training; criminal or other forms of misconduct; or breach of contract.
Cadets who are referred for disenrollment are entitled to due process. Cadets are provided with notice of disenrollment and afforded the opportunity to attend a disenrollment hearing board. Cadets may waive or exercise the right to a board. Upon being referred for disenrollment, the following questions are presented:
- Is there a basis to disenroll or remove the Cadet from ROTC;
- If so, should the Cadet be disenrolled from the program;
- If disenrollment is warranted, should the Cadet be required to repay the scholarship benefits received;
- And/or should the Cadet be ordered to perform a period of active duty service as an enlisted service member.
Cadets who waive the right to a board may submit a written request or other submissions related to these questions. Cadets who alternatively elect the right to a board will have a neutral and impartial military officer, appointed to hear evidence, make factual findings and recommendations regarding these issues. Cadets are entitled to present evidence at disenrollment board hearings by submitting documents, other forms of evidence, and calling witnesses on their behalves.
Cadets may also challenge and question any evidence or witnesses presented to the hearing officer by the ROTC program where the cadet attends school. At the conclusion of the hearing, the appointed investigating officer will make finding and recommendations regarding the issues outlined above. The Cadet may then submit written matters in response to the hearing officer’s finding and recommendations. These materials are finally forwarded to Cadet Command for approval or disapproval
Cadets who are pending disenrollment are entitled to the representation of counsel at all phases of the disenrollment process, to include the disenrollment hearing. However, counsel may not advocate or speak on a Cadet’s behalf at the hearing unless otherwise permitted by the hearing officer.
However, it is crucial for counsel to assist the cadet with understanding, interpreting and applying the complex rules and regulations that govern disenrollment proceedings. Counsel may also advise the cadet regarding how to present evidence and testimony, as well as how to challenge the same if presented against the Cadet at the hearing. Since counsel may be present with the Cadet during the hearing, they may confer privately outside the presence of the hearing officer and witnesses. This enables the two to work together as a team to collaborate on defense, strategy and other important issues.
Experienced counsel can also assist Cadets with developing presentations and submissions to the hearing officer. Disenrollment hearings are very similar in nature to administrative separation hearings, but for the fact that counsel cannot actively advocate on a Cadet’s behalf.
However, the preparation, analysis and defense strategy are virtually identical. Counsel experienced in these areas can meaningfully assist Cadets with identifying key witnesses and documents to present in one’s defense; highlighting important issues related to the questions presented by disenrollment proceedings; and identifying weaknesses in the government’s case. Counsel can also present submissions on the Cadet’s behalf, which is a form of written advocacy, at the hearing, in response to the hearing officer’s findings and recommendations and ultimately to Cadet Command.
If you are a ROTC Cadet who has been referred for disenrollment, call Attorney John L. Calcagni III today. Attorney Calcagni has represented many ROTC cadets at disenrollment proceedings. He is a former ROTC Cadet who successfully completed the program and was commissioned as a military officer.
He also has an extensive military law background from serving as a former active duty U.S. Army Judge Advocate and present Judge Advocate assigned to the U.S. Army Reserves. His unique education, experience and familiarity with both military law and ROTC enable him to understand the procedures, motivations and dynamics that underscore the ROTC disenrollment process.
Attorney Calcagni’s representation at disenrollment hearings has yielded a proven track record of success of assisting Cadets to achieve their varied desired goals, to include retention in ROTC; disenrollment with financial benefit forgiveness; or serving on active duty as an enlisted service member.