I’m Sick – The Rant

This isn’t going to be one of my normal posts. This is going to be a RANT!!!!

In the last couple weeks I have had a few of the cadets in the freshman class call me and tell me that they were sick and that they couldn’t attend class or lab or PT. Here’s the deal…that’s fine with me…I have explained that there is an attendance component to my grading system, and that missing class could affect the final grade. You have paid your tuition, so if you want to spend the semester in your room feeling sorry for yourself because you have a tummy ache it’s up to you. When you go away to college you assume a lot more personal control over your daily schedule. The responsibility to get out of bed falls on you, instead of whoever got you up to get on the bus to go to high school. If it was me spending that much money for the opportunity to learn and earn a diploma (and get a commission) I would be in an ICU before I would miss a class.

I think this is one of the things that sets ROTC apart from the Academies. The structure of the academies limits the choices you have to make on a daily basis. The ROTC cadet has to show a little more motivation and responsibility earlier in the process.

One last thing…in the 20 some years I have been in the working world I can’t remember a time when i called in sick. In the Army it was my sense of duty that made me drive around in the desert with a bad cold. It was desire to get paid that caused me to go to the mill, and work my shift even though I was feeling like crap.

OK, rant over…If you are one of the cadets that was sick, take this as a challenge, not as a criticism.

Two Army (ROTC) Strong Stories

Army Strong Stories are stories about Soldiers in the Army who want to share something about their experience.

Here are two Army Strong stories from college students who made the decision to join Army ROTC, and why:

The first Army Strong story is from Nichole Gallup, a Senior ROTC Cadet at SUNY Brockport. She will commission in May 2011:

I am a student in NYS and college was a worry for me. I did recieve a small scholarship from my college, so I figured I would worry about money later. However with no financial support from my family I found myself searching for jobs and ways to pay bills. I had heard about ROTC before, but was not sure of how it all worked. I met with our recruiter and he told me I could try ROTC without any military obligation after college. I thought, “ok why not?” So I started in spring semester freshman year. I ended up not really having time for it in my schedule, and dropped the course. The next semester however I had more time to try this course again and I fell in love with it. I however did not contract until fall semester of my junior year. During sophomore year I worked two jobs while doing school. I ended up going to LTC at Fort Knox and then contracted when I came home. I recieved a 5,000 dollar bonus and a scholarship offer for 2 years. I was pumped! I did not have to worry about money anymore, so I quit one job but continued with the other. After a while however I quit my other job and it was nice to be able to focus solely on school. With my bonus I was able to study abroad in New Zealand for three weeks over the winter, which I would have never been able to do financially without ROTC. The experiences and opportunities ROTC has offered to me are ones I will never forget and would never have had without this program.

This second story comes from James Bowman, a Cadet at The University of Southern California:

During my junior year of high school I first considered the idea of joining the military. Initially I was not set on any particular branch, but I was more interested in the Airforce and Army. I was planning on going to college so I began looking into ways to do both. I then went through the applications for AROTC, AFROTC, USMA, and USAFA. My parents had told me they would not be able to pay for my college, but since I wanted to join the military anyways the scholarship aspect was more of a bonus than a primary motive for seeking out ROTC.

Ultimately I chose Army ROTC and decided to join the Trojan family at USC. When I came into the ROTC program at USC, I came in never having addressed anyone as “Sir” in my life. I remember how strange it felt coming out of my mouth for the first time as I addressed my PMS. But now, I find myself comfortably addressing people I don’t even know as “Sir”. I think that change is a good analogy for the change I have experienced over the last four years. I came in as a shaggy haired kid who had know idea what this word “hooah” was that people kept saying.

Without a doubt, ROTC has been the single most defining aspect of my college experience. It is the one constant that has been with me as I progressed from a freshman to a senior. It has taught me valuable lessons and skills that I have been able to use in all realms of my life.

For more Army Strong Stories, click here. Or check out the link on the right sidebar.

Summer CULP program

I wanted to share a story from one of the Cadets in the GKB. I was blown away by this story, which will be one of the featured stories to be published in our fall newsletter. The newsletters can be seen on the Golden Knight Battalion website.
Pecka in Tanzania
Cadet David Pecka was one of 4 cadet we sent this summer on cultural immersion trips sponsored by Cadet Command. What amazed me about this trip was the fact that this trip wasn’t focused on the military aspects of the country, but on the humanitarian relief opportunities. The fact that the Army is instilling in it’s young leaders the compassion and desire to make things better, along with the desire to quickly and efficiently win the nation’s wars validates part of the reason why I joined the Army.

So here is what David had to say about his trip:

This past summer I had the amazing privilege of traveling with 21 other ROTC Cadets and 2 Cadre members to the country of Tanzania to offer humanitarian aid to the local community. We were placed at various hospitals, schools, women’s advocacy groups for HIV and AIDS help, and even community improvement organizations and organizations for the mentally and physically disabled. I was able to work with teachers to help children with Down Syndrome learn how to count and read. Also because of their disabilities the children were not taught English like the rest of the children in the country, forcing us to plan our lessons in advance and learn how to teach it in Swahili. This allowed me to pick up a lot of the language. We were also able to take trips to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, both once in a lifetime opportunities. When we got back to the United States I have a much greater appreciation for everything that we have here. Currently I am working to secure funding from US corporations for schools in Tanzania. I am hoping to get companies such as Colgate and Crest to donate money and/or products to improve the lives of these children. Over all, this trip was enjoyable, eye opening, and life changing. If given the opportunity I would do it again in a heartbeat and I strongly urge any incoming MSI and MSII to look into this great opportunity and take advantage of it.

911 Ceremony

Clarkson University held it’s annual 911 ceremony today.

Every year it is a moving ceremony in which College President Tony Collins, someone from Alumni relations, and a guest speaker reflect on 911. This years ceremony featured former marine and current Clarkson University student Christopher Krushinski, who is attending Clarkson using the GI bill and the Yellow Ribbon program, and Rajiv Narula, PhD student in Environmental Sciences and Engineering, who will recite the Sanskrit Universal Prayer for Peace. Additionally the ROTC programs at Clarkson provide a joint color guard, and the Golden Knotes, the accapella singing group at Clarkson sing the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful. The location for the ceremony is the September 11 Memorial Sculpture on Clarkson’s campus. This sculpture, which was created with steel girders from the world trade center. 4 Clarkson alumni were among the victims of the 911 attacks.

Here is coverage from the 2008 ceremony

As I observed today’s ceremony I reflected on where I was, and what I recall from that fateful day 9 years ago. At the time I was working for US Steel, as a foreman in their steel mill. I had left the Army in 1996 and never dreamed that I would be part of the military again in my life. I was working the 3 to 11 shift that day, and was taking the opportunity to get my grass cut that morning. I had gone into the house to get a drink of water and saw that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. As I watched the news coverage of what appeared to be a tragic accident I saw the second plane hit the other tower and new immediately that this was no accident. I recall one of my first thought being how could someone’s life be so desperate that they could perpetrate such an attack. How could someone perceive us as such a threat or enemy that they would do this to innocent civilians. When I went to work that afternoon all my coworkers, who knew I was a veteran, asked me about my opinion, and what I thought the response would be, and would I have to go if called. I told them I would have to answer the call, not realizing that a short time later I would be called to back to service.

I just wanted to share some reflection, since the events of 911 impacted me, and still impact me to this day because of where I work, and what I do and have done in the years since that day.