Lt. Northrop

I never thought I’d see any of my family in a military uniform, but this past weekend my brother began his career in earnest as a dentist in the Navy by completing Officer Candidate School and being assigned to the base in San Diego.

I made the trip down to Newport, RI for the ceremony, my eighth graduation of the year thanks to my beat and his graduation from dental school in May. It was as efficient as you’d expect it to be, not something I can say about many graduations I’ve been to, unfortunately.

From what he told me, the school was no boot camp but far from an enjoyable experience. The base’s aesthetic was as if someone took the ugliest dorm from every major state school and haphazardly arranged them to cause people who stay there a constant low-level discomfort to add to the boot-camp-lite experience.

He said he lost about 12 pounds over the five-week program as well from avoiding the dire food, but he’s glad to gain a much more thorough understanding of how the organization, as a whole, works.

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He may be his rank through different means than career members, but he still has the same responsibilities as other officers and will be responsible for telling newbies who to talk to him about tasks like filing taxes if asked.

He decided to enlist to help pay for his dental education, which averaged somewhere around $100,000 a year, and it seems like a great decision. His time in school counted toward his obligated years so within six years or so he’ll have the option to leave and go into private practice with all of those bills paid.

With tuition the way it is now, it has to be a relief to not have to worry about that.

I’m excited about his next steps and still impatiently waiting until he gets out and visiting him also means a free checkup.

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Samuel Northrop is the education reporter for The Post-Star. He can be reached at snorthrop@poststar.com.


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