People sometimes ask me what part I enjoy most about serving as your Congressman. The answer may surprise you. My favorite part is calling young men and women from southwest Alabama to let them know they have been accepted into one of our nation’s military service academies.
Each of our service academies offer students a first-class education while also helping equip the students with the skills needed to lead our nation’s military. Tuition, room, and board for the service academies are free as the academies are an investment in our military capability and leadership.
The service academies include the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy (West Point), the United States Coast Guard Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, is the oldest of our service academies. It was founded in 1802. The newest academy is the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which was founded in 1954.
In order to attend most of the service academies, students must have a nomination. Congressmen, Senators, the Vice President, and the President are the only ones who can nominate a student to a service academy. That said, just having a nomination will not guarantee that a student is admitted. The admission process is incredibly competitive and the acceptance rate is less than 20% for each of the academies.
Once students complete their education, they must fulfill a service commitment. Most of these commitments are at least five years active duty, but the service requirement may be longer for certain specialized fields.
I hope you will join me congratulating these nine outstanding individuals from Southwest Alabama who received a service academy appointment this year:
- Travis Amsbaugh, a homeschool student from Mobile, received an official appointment to the United States Air Force Academy;
- Spence Chanthavane, from Davidson High School, received an official appointment to the United States Air Force Academy;
- Paul Clark, from the Alabama School of Math and Science, received an official appointment to the United States Naval Academy;
- Patrick Howze IV, from UMS-Wright Preparatory School, received an official appointment to the United States Military Academy;
- Connor Kusch, from Mc-Gill Toolen High School, received an official appointment to the United States Naval Academy;
- Jacob LaPorte III, from James O’Neill High School in New York, received an official appointment to the United States Military Academy;
- Miller Mosley, from St. Paul’s Episcopal School, received an official appointment to the United States Air Force Academy;
- Charles Reichley, from Fairhope High School, received an official appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy; and
- Sean Weathersby, from Daphne Nigh School, received an official appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
There is no greater calling than those who decide to serve our country. In order to maintain the greatest fighting force on the face of the Earth, we must have outstanding men and women who are willing to serve in the military. I have had the chance to visit with these young men, and they will be a great addition to our Armed Forces.
If you or someone you know would be interested in attending a military service academy, feel free to reach out to my office for more information. Eligible applicants must be at least 17 years old, be a citizen of the United States, have good moral character, demonstrate strong leadership skills, and achieve impressive scholastic achievements.
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Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.