Military academy nominations: Education worth thousands

Sep 22, 2014 by

WASHINGTON – Members of Congress from Mississippi take different approaches when it comes to nominating high school students for admission to the nation’s elite service academies.

That lack of consistency isn’t unusual.

A recent USA TODAY analysis found congressional offices vary widely in how they handle nominations to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

The process isn’t governed by any universal standards or ethical guidelines, and each congressional office follows its own procedures and criteria.

“In the House, it’s 435 fiefdoms, and there’s no centralized policy on how you do it,” said Blake Chisam, the House ethics committee’s top staff member between 2009 and 2011.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and 3rd District Rep. Gregg Harper share the cost of a staffer to recruit and recommend nominees. Second District Rep. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat in the delegation, relies on a community advisory committee, and Republican Sen. Thad Cochran uses a team of staffers.

In Republican 1st District Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s office, district director Mabel Murphree, a former educator, reviews test scores and essays in searching for the most qualified academy candidates. Fourth District Rep. Steven Palazzo, also a Republican, uses an advisory board.

Nomination by a member of Congress is one of the few routes to a prestigious service academy education. The nomination process is designed to ensure broad geographic representation for the next generation of officers.

via Military academy nominations: Education worth thousands.

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