Furloughs cancel forum for future cadets


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

Photo by Neil Ruiz
Photo by Neil Ruiz

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has received more than 20 cadets from Queens since 2003.

Queens high school students looking to serve their country will have to make do without a planned information forum that could have been critical to their military future.

Recruiters from five of the nation’s top military academies were set to meet the borough’s prospective cadets until the government shutdown trickled down and caused its cancellation.

The Forest Hills forum organized by Congressmember Grace Meng was expected to draw at least 100 people, according to Meng’s office. It was called off since most academy representatives were likely furloughed from the shutdown.

A spokesperson for Meng said the event could not be rescheduled even if the shutdown ends soon due to time restraints.

“Canceling this important forum for our local students is extremely disappointing,” Meng said. “It illustrates how our Congressional district continues to feel the effects of the GOP shutdown.”

The event gave students a chance to get key information all at once, including requirements and procedures for applying, from representatives from the prestigious institutions.

Applicants are also short on time and have until November 1 to apply for their required congressional nominations — a competitive process in New York.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy all mandate a nod for appointment from a U.S. representative.

Congressmembers or senators then have until January 31 to review and interview applicants before sending their choices to the academies.

“For the sake of our constituents and the rest of the country,” Meng said, “I once again urge House Republicans to immediately reopen the government.”

The federal stalemate, at least, is not delaying squared-away cadets at Francis Lewis High School, which has one of the country’s largest junior battalions.

The six seniors interested in attending West Point have already submitted their applications and congressional nomination requests, according to Senior Army Instructor retired Lt. Col. Al Lahood.

The school’s JROTC program has sent more than 20 cadets to West Point since 2003, officials said. Five alumni graduated from the prestigious military academy last year.

Five Queens teens from other high schools have also been accepted to the Air Force Academy since last year.

 

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