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Hello all,

I’m new to the forum (obviously), but I’ve been lurking for a while.

I’m an active duty Marine (E-4) with an FY22 EAS. I originally intended to join the military to become an Officer and fly helicopters, but at 17 years old I decided that it was imperative that I gain experience as an enlisted man first before pursuing a commission. I don’t regret my decision to enlist, but now’s the time to start thinking about the next chapter of my life.

After much thought and discussion with my wife, I decided that pursuing a greater leadership role and an aviation career is more important to me than staying in the Marines, so I began researching opportunities to lead and fly in the other services and I came across the Army WOFT program. The prospect of being a Warrant Officer AND a pilot was very appealing to me, as many of the most admirable and inspiring leaders I’ve had in my career have been WOs. This is the path I want to take.

I got in touch with a recruiter a while back and he said that I sounded like I’d make a good fit, but I would have to wait until I am 6 months out from my EAS in order to be released from the Marine Corps and begin processing into the Army. What should I be doing for the next 18 months to best prepare myself for the selection board, become competitive and get my package in order? I’d like to put my best foot forward and get a head start, so all of my ducks are in a row when it’s time for me to submit.

A little about my background:

I’m in my third year of my Bachelor’s program in Aeronautics, but I have no experience flying as of yet. I took a SIFT practice test and it predicted an 80-90% on the actual exam. My GT score is a 135, and my USMC PFT is a 255 pretty consistently.

The only thing really wrong with me is that my vision is pretty bad, – 4.75 diopters in one eye and – 4.50 in the other. However it is corrected to 20/20 with lenses and I’ve been screened as a good candidate for PRK by a civilian doc. Should I get the ball rolling on that now?

All of that being said, would I be competitive for selection and make a good WO?

I appreciate any wisdom y’all can pass down!

Best,

B

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I got out of the Corps in 2015 and just got accepted in the January board on my first look. To me it sounds like you'd be competitive with the leadership you gained from the military already, the degree, etc.... as I understand the AD boards are more competitive though. But you have plenty of time to perfect your essay, acquire good LORs, train to max out the APFT or whatever else you can possibly work on to make yourself stand out to the board.

As far as vision, if your current command will let you I'd get the ball rolling on that. My recruiters tried to say vision just needed to be correctable to 20/20 despite what everyone else said so I waited for them to schedule a flight physical 6hrs away from where I live. Started the process and got told by optometry to get surgery and come back in 3 months... honestly, even if i never got accepted I'm glad I did that. I saw 20/15 clearly within a few weeks and have had zero side effects, ditching glasses and contacts has been amazing. My only regret is not having done it sooner. My prescription was much less than yours, like -2.75 and -3.25 if I recall correctly.

The whole process takes a lot of time, but if you fix your vision well in advance of the flight physical and maybe take your SIFT now that you are ready to you'll be ahead of the game when you start building the packet

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You’ll need corrective eye surgery to be qualified. Your vision cannot be worse than 20:50 correctable to 20:20 and yours is around a 20:400. 

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Just to manage expectations, being an Army Aviation Warrant Officer will likely be a completely different experience than the other Warrant Officers you have worked with.  

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I appreciate the good advice from everyone. Just to update on my progress so far, I’ve got a consult for eye surgery scheduled and submitted the paperwork to go take the SIFT here in the near future.

Do letters of recommendation have to be from Army Aviators or could a Naval Aviator (a fighter pilot, let’s say) write me a letter? Also, is one form of eye surgery (PRK or LASIK) safer or more beneficial for aviators? I’ve done some research but the results I’ve read about weren’t exactly definitive.

Again, many thanks for y’all’s help!

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I had LORs from the Marine side, but also made sure I had some from the Army Aviation side as well. Had a CW4 60 pilot and a CPT 64 pilot write me LORs in addition to the ones from the USMC. 

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Another former Marine here about to leave for IERW. Plenty of Marines go this route, you won't be alone. As others have stated, get the eye stuff done. 

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My wife and I are both prior Marines in the program. I had PRK and she had Lasik. They both are acceptable. You can get the flight physical waiver 3 months after the surgery and the MEPS physical waiver required 6 months. The waivers required the documentation on the follow-ups to make sure there were no complications.  

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