May 20, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. ---- NEW POLICY ON ROTC PROGRAM FOR SAMOAN
Congressman Faleomavaega met recently with Dr. Wayne Sellman, Director of Accession Policy for the Department of Defense, concerning the eligibility of U.S. Nationals for the Reserve Office Candidate Corps (ROTC) scholarship program. Dr. Sellman announced the results of a study DOD completed on the issue as directed by a provision inserted by Faleomavaega in last year's Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 105-85). Under the current interpretation of federal law, U.S. nationals are not eligible for acceptance into the ROTC scholarship program.
"I am pleased to report that the Department of Defense is sympathetic to our plight and is taking steps to improve the current situation," said Faleomavaega. "The Department is changing its policy to accept U.S. nationals on a conditional basis. While in this conditional status, U.S. nationals will be able to enroll in ROTC courses and fully participate in the ROTC program."The Congressman continued, "Federal immigration law requires U.S. nationals to reside in a state of the United States for three months before they can apply for U.S. citizenship. ROTC Cadets or midshipmen in conditional status will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after this three month period. Additionally, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has agreed to process requests for citizenship within three months from the time applications for citizenship are received. This means that in most cases, conditional status would last only six months, after which the student would become a citizen and be moved to regular ROTC status."
"The Department of Defense will also support changing federal law to authorize ROTC students in conditional status to receive the monthly stipend of $150.00 received by other ROTC students," noted Faleomavaega. "I will be working to include the necessary amendment into the FY99 Defense Authorization Bill which is being considered by the House this week, but should it be too late, DOD will include the change in its proposal for next year's legislation."
"I am very pleased with the support demonstrated by the Department of Defense toward including U.S. nationals in this officer candidate program, and I am glad we are moving toward a resolution of this problem," concluded Faleomavaega.