A growing number of high school seniors from the 2nd Congressional District are expressing an interest in the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs and the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

One of the greatest responsibilities I have as your congressman is the opportunity to nominate the best and the brightest young people for the chance to attend one of these academies.

Service to God, country and people are the most honorable accomplishments and contributions that a human being can make in life. The U.S. military offers patriotic citizens the opportunity to serve their country by protecting their freedom and territory.

Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

I took this opportunity years ago and proudly served the United States Air Force Reserves as an enlisted airman in the C-130 Unit at Houston’s Ellington Field Air Force Base.

The military would not be what it is today without the officers and leadership that lead it. Texas is known for its overwhelming desire to serve our country and that is evident every time that I have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can always spot the Texas troops with their “Don’t Mess with Texas” stickers and Texas flags.

In the tradition of Col. James Fannin, the only West Point graduate in the Texas Revolution, young men and women continue to answer the call.

Each U.S. service academy molds students into the officers that lead our nation’s troops and protect our nation’s security in the fight for liberty. Each year, the academies seek out the nation’s top youth to attend these prestigious institutions.

To apply for one of my nominations, a student should visit my website at http://poe.house.gov/constituentservices/serviceacademynominations.htm and carefully read the fact sheet and application. For students wishing to enter one of the academies in the summer of 2012, the deadline for submitting a completed form to my Kingwood district office is Friday, Oct. 14. All required documents must be submitted, without exception, by this deadline.

The criteria and information necessary is outlined on the fact sheet. All eligible candidates must meet a certain criteria as of July 1 of the year of admission to an academy. They must be 17 years old but not have passed their 23rd birthday, be unmarried, U.S. citizens without dependents or legal obligation to others, and meet the academic criteria laid out by the academies.

All completed packets are reviewed and if the applicant meets the criteria, he or she will be scheduled for an interview with my Service Academy Nomination Board. The board is comprised of a cross-section of citizens. It includes graduates from West Point and the Navy Academy, a former U.S. congressman, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, educators, business owners and other community leaders.

Each person serving on this board understands the importance of his or her position and is honored to meet our area’s finest young men and women. The board not only looks at each applicant’s academic and leadership qualities but whether or not the applicant has an iron sense of duty and commitment to become an officer and serve this great country.

This year the board interviewed numerous applicants. I am proud to have nominated several outstanding individuals to the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy, the Military Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. The service academies review the nominations I submit and determine which nominees will receive an offer of appointment. An offer of appointment is admission to an academy.

I encourage all students and parents to take the time to look into the opportunities the service academies offer. Each academy has a website with complete admission information, degrees offered, commitment to military after graduation and other vital information.

This year the following students from the 2nd Congressional District received and accepted offers of appointment:

U.S. Air Force Academy:

Carter Post - Providence Classical High School, Houston

Toby Tinelli - Atascocita High School, Atascocita

U.S. Military Academy:

Kyle Coker - West Brook High School, Beaumont

U.S. Naval Academy:

Devin Martin - Ross S. Sterling High School, Baytown

Daniel Norris - Ross S. Sterling High School, Baytown

Noah Garza - West Brook High School, Beaumont

They will report to the academies this summer to begin their training and education. I wish them all the very best and am very proud of each of them as they pursue their goal to become officers in the U.S. military.

I want to enlist all parents, educators and community leaders to encourage young talent to submit an application for consideration in the 2012 nominations process. If you know someone who is inclined toward service and honor, please direct them to my Kingwood district office.

I will be happy to accommodate them on a journey that could lead to a coveted spot in the chain of command for the most respected and best trained military in the world.

And that’s just the way it is.