The reality of ROTC
‘I am not just saying this, but these cadets are some of most genuine kids you’ll ever meet’
I grew up in awe of the sheer force and sheer size of the United States Military. It is an organization that has transcended our entire history as a country and one that I have always been inspired by. Now, as a 19-year-old college student, in the beginning stages of becoming part of this immensely important organization, I’ve learned that it is not like what the movies taught.
These are some of the smartest kids I have ever met
Unfortunately I think the entertainment industry has painted members of the United States Military as not the sharpest tools in the shed. That is simply not true. As I said, I am in the beginning stages of this process but even so, I have learned an incredible amount of useful information that will remain for me with the rest of my life. There is a lot to learn, remember, and then on top of that you have to apply the information that you have learned.
It is not all about guns and the ‘light them up, shoot them up’ mindset
Obviously men and women in ROTC are receiving an education as they go through this experience, but a lot of the training and instruction pertains to land navigation, map reading, respect, intelligence, and ideas that are forever useful. I have not held a gun yet.
Where are the drill sergeants?
I was deathly afraid during my first session of PT. I know every college runs differently, the Military in general runs differently, but I was expecting to return to my dorm with half my shirt ripped off and mud smeared down my body. The Sergeants and Major’s are some of the most respectful, knowledgable, and kind people I have met. In our society today I feel like the line is constantly being blurred between someone who is “nice” and someone who is “kind” The higher levels of command demand respect but are extremely kind people as well.
There are careers beyond the Army
The Army is not a final end all be all. You can make the military your lifelong career and goal, but most of the people who go into the Army then go out into society and make big things happen. Also not every person is a solider carrying a gun, a Marine with fins and an oxygen tank (or no oxygen tank), or a pilot breaking the sound barrier. As in every other organization you need people with different talents and abilities to function efficiently and appropriately.
You get to have a life outside of ROTC!
I thought the social aspect of my college career would be ruined but it was actually strengthened. I am still able to go out and drink as much water as I want, or go dance until my feet bleed. You just have to learn to have a very quick turn around. (My trick is to drink a Pedialyte, eat a charcoal pill, and drink a bottle of water after a long night out.)
Now some true facts about ROTC.
Fitness is actually a priority. Work on your physical fitness or you will be asked to leave
Crank out those push ups, work on those sit ups, and push that two mile run time. There is a minimum standard for everyone!
We wake up around 0445-0500
Goodnight ten hour sleeps. Especially being part of the ROTC, when you have to handle extracurriculars and academics, you normally go to bed around 0000 or 0100.
You actually feel part of an inseparable bond
This is the thing that shocked me the most. The other cadets are your brothers and sisters before you even actually meet them. I do not know why, but being part of a shared vision changes you as a person and you come away looking at the world differently.
The uniform makes you feel pretty badass and important
Oh yes (even though this picture has ZERO badass cred.)
The structure will change your lifestyle
The structure and lifestyle morphs your view on reality. You begin to realize that being an individual is great but there is something completely more rewarding as being part of a community that puts everyone else first. There is so much to be thankful for by living in the United States of America. We ARE the greatest country in the world and to contribute to that continued success is something that cannot even be explained…again I am not even physically fighting yet and it is still something special. The little things in life come into perspective very quickly.