When I didn’t make it into OCS

Merrick Ho // August 11, 2017, 4:11 pm

In Green

When I began my NS journey in 2014, all I cared about was making it into OCS.

Officer Cadet School (OCS) is a path only some soldiers will get to take. It’s a route reserved for soldiers of exceptional performance. Only the most capable get into OCS.

I wanted to get into OCS – I saw it as validation of my abilities. Of me.

So in Basic Military Training, I did my absolute best in everything I was assigned. I thought I performed well when I was put in charge; my superiors seemed to like me, too. Many of my platoonmates told me I was OCS material.

It seemed a foregone conclusion.

I received my posting on the Friday after I finished BMT. It read: Specialist Cadet School. SCS.

My initial reaction was to refresh the Internet page repeatedly – there had to be some mistake! Why was there an “S” instead of an “O”? But no matter how many times I clicked the refresh button, it still read SCS.

I was devastated. I had let myself down. I felt lousy about myself. SCS isn’t a bad posting, but … it just wasn’t OCS. It wasn’t what I wanted.

And when I didn’t get my heart’s desire, I started blaming God for it.

I did my best in all my training, God. I did all I could – why didn’t you give me what I want? Why didn’t things turn out the way I wanted?

I realised I wanted to enter OCS as a mark of my abilities. It was about my personal pride. I yearned for my own glory.

I thought about it for days on end. Was there anything I could’ve done to change this result?

I eventually came to the conclusion that I just had to suck it up. Unlike the outside world, there’s no way to “appeal” into OCS. There was nothing else to be done.

This was the hand I was dealt.

Two months into SCS, we received our vocational postings. I was one of the few to be sent to the Air Force.

The training was more knowledge-intensive, meaning it wasn’t just about the physical training anymore.

As I studied for my vocation, I realised I had a deep interest in the realm of national defence. I decided to apply for a scholarship with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

Days and weeks passed without a reply. Frankly, I’d given up on the application.

But after three months, I received the official reply, asking me to come for an interview. I made it through all three rounds of the selection process and was awarded the scholarship.

With the scholarship, I would be able to lighten the financial burdens of my parents, who were already paying my brother’s university fees.

As I reflected in thanksgiving, I realised that what I had in mind for myself was vastly different from what God had in mind for me.

I wanted to enter OCS as a mark of my abilities. It was about my personal pride. I yearned for my own glory.

But God had a better plan – one for His glory.