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NEWS | July 5, 2023

From enlisted Soldier to commissioned officer: Perseverance leads to direct commissioning

By Maj. Charles An U.S. Army Reserve Innovation Command

Venkatesh Srinivasan woke up and put on his uniform on June 25, 2023, with the rank of specialist in the Army Reserve, and by the end of that morning, he was pinned captain bars. Srinivasan had persevered through a long journey to get his commission.

Members of the 75th Innovation Command had the opportunity to witness a rare moment when Maj. Gen. Martin Klein, commanding general of the 75th Innovation Command, presided over the ceremony as Srinivasan repeated the oath of office.

Srinivasan may have gone from being an enlisted Soldier to a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve within moments, but the journey to wearing his captain bars took several years. He initially joined the Army Reserve in October 2015 as a biomedical specialist and graduated Advanced Individual Training in May 2017. But it was his dream to eventually commission as an officer.

Upon graduating from AIT, Srinivasan immediately began working for Peterbilt Motors Company as an electrical design engineer in June 2017, until he joined the Unmanned Undersea Operations branch at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport.

“At NUWC, I worked and designed the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles hardware in the loop simulators and eventually created a Big-Data and Cloud Computing team of five engineers and lead various advanced data projects for the AUVs,” said Srinivasan. “For my big data and cloud computing work at NUWC, I was also nominated to be Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Emergent Engineer Award by the Department of the Navy in 2023.”

Before joining the 75th Innovation Command, Srinivasan worked at the 94th Combat Support Hospital and supported the maintenance of more than 90 different medical equipment. It was with the 94th CSH that Srinivasan applied to Officer Candidate School and was selected.

Unfortunately, Srinivasan’s report to OCS was delayed until 2021 due to COVID-19 quarantine requirements, and this interfered with projects he was working on in his civilian capacity to meet Navy mission needs. He lost his window to report to OCS because of his dedication to the Navy.

“I was losing hope and decided to leave the Army, [but] my supervisor, a retired O-6 [captain] in my previous Navy Research Lab reached out to Maj. Gen. Klein,” said Srinivasan.

With his background and experience, Srinivasan was a great fit for the 75th Innovation Command. Since March 2022, he has supported the Command’s Autonomy and Robotics missions. There, he worked with Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Brookshire, an Army Reserve Career Counselor, and was able to submit paperwork to receive a direct commission through the U.S. Special Operations Command, a new program that required applicants to be very proactive to move their commission packet along.

“I think without him [Brookshire], I wouldn't have been assigned to 75th IC. He has been supporting my application for the last five years through this process,” Srinivasan expressed.

Srinivasan was able to not only receive a commission as an officer but enter the Officer Corps at the rank of captain, based on his experience and background.

Now as a newly commissioned officer, Srinivasan will serve as a civil affairs officer with the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion in Newport, Rhode Island.

“It means a lot for me to be an officer, as it has been my dream and I truly love our Army that has given me and my family so much,” said Srinivasan. “I want to give back to the Army by taking care of Soldiers and by leading them so they bring the best version of themselves for the Army's future needs in the current challenging environment.”

Srinivasan is originally from Varanasi, India, and holds a bachelor’s in electronics engineering from Anna University in Chennai, India. He also holds a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of North Texas and is currently working on a second Master of Science in innovation management from Brown University.

The 75th Innovation Command drives operational innovation, concepts, and capabilities to enhance the readiness and lethality of the Future Force by leveraging the unique skills, agility and private sector connectivity of America's Army Reserve. For more information, visit