Weekly Column

One of the hallmarks of America is our all-volunteer military. Members of the American military have defended our freedom since before our country was established, and we are proud of their service and dedication to the homeland. Military service takes grit and commitment, and I know many Nebraskans who find a deep sense of fulfillment in serving their country. It provides community and purpose to Americans across the country, especially young people.

One avenue into military service as a commissioned officer is through one of our country’s five service academies: the U.S. Military Academy (West Point, New York), Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland), Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Coast Guard Academy (New London, Connecticut), and Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, New York). Young men and women pursuing a commission may apply to one or more of these academies, where the education and training is simply unparalleled. Academy alumni are proud of the strong foundation they receive from these institutions.

The mission of all five service academies is to develop, educate, train, and inspire young people to become officers of character. These officers go on to lead in service to our nation and assume the responsibilities of command. Students at the academies are well-rounded and successful, and they will bring those qualities into long-term military service or some other career path after their mandatory five years of service.

The academies consider what’s called the “whole person concept” when selecting students. Young men and women who receive appointments to one of the academies will have high standards of character, leadership potential, honor, academic performance, and physical fitness. Those who earn an appointment have the opportunity to enjoy a world-class education, athletic opportunities, and diverse military experiences. Cadets and midshipmen graduate without debt and receive a monthly stipend while attending an academy. Upon graduation, they will earn a Bachelor of Science degree and be commissioned as an officer, serving for at least five years in our nation’s Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Merchant Marines, or Space Force.

Applicants to the academies, excluding the Coast Guard Academy, must be nominated by aMember of Congress. My staff and I review nomination applications every fall and select the candidates we believe will make excellent military officers. Each year, my staff hosts Academy Days, where we give interested Nebraskans more information about the academy nomination and application processes.

Our next Academy Day, cohosted with Rep. Mike Flood’s team, will be held on April 22 from 8:30am – 12:00pm at the John B. Muller Admin Building at Bellevue University. This is the perfect opportunity for high school students, especially juniors considering the application process, and their parents to learn more about how to apply for nominations. If you are busy on the 22nd, I would encourage you to attend the Academy Day Rep. Don Bacon’s staff will hold on April 15 from 9am – 11am at the Wahoo Public Library.

Nebraska — the home of Offutt Air Force Base and Camp Ashland — is steeped in a rich heritage of military service. I know many young Nebraskans will continue that tradition and serve our country heroically. I hope to hear from future leaders during the nomination process this year. To apply for a nomination, please contact my Omaha office at (402) 391-3411 or email

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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