The saying goes “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” This saying has never been more true than with the military. The military isn’t for everyone, but how do you know it’s not for you? What better way than to find out for yourself.
I’d always thought about joining the military, ever since I was a little boy playing soldier with my friends in the back yard. Some of you might be like me and some of you might have never thought about it before. Just because you’ve never thought about it, doesn’t mean it’s too late. I’m here to tell you about ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and how it could benefit you.
ROTC is a 4-year college program that involves Military Science classes, Military History classes and Lab classes that will teach you about the strategies that go into the military. You will take classes, go to PT (Physical Training) sessions in the morning, and still live a normal college life. At the end of the program you will graduate as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army, Army Reserves or National Guard.
The first thing you need to know about ROTC is that just because you join ROTC, doesn’t mean you’re enlisting in the Army. You can join ROTC for the first two years of college and you won’t have to make a commitment to the Army. You can take the Military Science classes, go to PT sessions and learn more about the military but if you decide it’s not for you after 2 years, you’re free to drop out.
If you decide that you want to continue being in the ROTC program, you will contract with the United States Army, Army Reserve or National Guard. You can either contract as a scholarship cadet or a non scholarship cadet. The contract length will depend on whether you choose to go Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard and whether you are a scholarship cadet or not. Contracting means that you will graduate as a 2nd Lieutenant.
If you’ve already completed your first or second year of college, you can still join ROTC. If you choose to join ROTC after your freshman year, you will go to LTC (Leadership Training Course) in Ft. Knox, Kentucky during the summer in between your sophomore and junior years. You will be able to decide after LTC whether you want to contract or not. Just because you attend LTC does not require you to sign a contract but you do have the opportunity to.
If you receive an ROTC Scholarship and choose to accept it, these are the benefits you will receive:
(1) Full tuition OR Room/Board paid for (one or the other)
(2) Book Allowance ($600 per semester)
(3) A monthly stipend (I will discuss this later on)
(4) Drill Pay at E-5 Level
(5) Graduate as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army
If you do not receive a scholarship or choose not to accept one but still want to contract, these are the benefits you will receive:
(1) A monthly stipend
(2) Drill Pay at E-5 level
(3) Graduate as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army
The monthly stipend is what the Army pays you to be an ROTC cadet. You must be contracted to receive the monthly stipend. This money can help you with any expenses that you choose, it’s just like receiving a pay check. These are the amounts you will receive:
(1) Freshman (If a scholarship cadet) $300 per month
(2) Sophomore (if a scholarship cadet) $350 per month
(3) Junior (Must be contracted) $450 per month
(4) Senior (Must be contracted) $500 per month
The military is never about the money but as a college student, the money definitely helps. Not only are you getting paid and have the potential to get a free education, you’re gaining valuable experience. Commissioning as an officer in the military will not just help you during your military career, it will follow you in your civilian life as well. Your military experience and rank will help you get jobs and possibly increase in income later on in life.
In review, you’re not required to join the Army just because you’re in ROTC. You will gain experiences and friends along the way. You will get paid for your commitment to your country and possibly a free education. Even though the military isn’t for everyone, it’s worth it to find out if it’s right for you. Hooah!