Building Bonds, Forging Futures
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Most people—even the majority of the apathetic students at Boston College—have had their eyes open long enough to notice a scattering of uniformed men and women perusing campus. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a four-year program that allows students at BC to have a normal college experience while also receiving the training and education necessary to be commissioned as an Army Second Lieutenant once they graduate.
ROTC includes weekly training sessions, that are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 a.m. Although the strenuous physical training is necessary to shape these budding young Army members, equally important are their weekly military skills training, their leadership labs on Tuesday mornings, and their military science class. A major part of their training includes learning military tactics, land navigation, squad tactics, and, overall, combat-oriented skills. "What we do the most is physical training," said Meredith Piro, A&S ’14, "but I think the biggest misconception people have is that we just work out. People don’t know how much time goes into coordinating labs and training. It is a very student-oriented organization."
Recently, ROTC students put on a large-scale military ball. The BC battalion, called the "Liberty Battalion," is actually a joint battalion made up of BC and Northeastern students. BC and Northeastern are the two "host schools." All of the BC students’ training is here on campus, however with the occasional trip to Northeastern for certain events and Liberty Battalion-wide gatherings.
For outsiders, it may seem difficult to understand the life of an ROTC cadet. "When you’re at an ROTC function, it’s important that what needs to get done gets done," said Sarah Winglass, A&S ’14. "It is
important to respect people of authority and maintain a sense of respect for them and their position. Outside of that, however, almost all of us get breakfast together at Hillside after workouts. You get to know your fellow cadets on a level you normally wouldn’t get to." ROTC is a small community, with only 32 members in the entire company.
Piro and Winglass both referred to the company as a family, offering them mentorship as well as giving them the opportunity to mentor others. Each cadet is assigned one or two freshmen to meet with and help ease their transitions. In general, however, all members act collectively as their mentors. Winglass reminisced on how ROTC was a structure that helped her in adjusting to college. "It was extremely helpful to come to college and already have a group that is looking out for you and want to see you succeed."
As the years pass at BC, the notion of being a part of the Army becomes increasingly real. After junior year, the cadets attend a four-week long training course, the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC). Here, cadets assemble from all over the United States at Fort Lewis, Wash., where everything they have accomplished in the past three years is assessed and evaluated. This course and evaluation is the culmination of everything one has pursued in ROTC thus far, from physical aptitude to performance in classes. The next step is arriving back at school as a senior and a leader for the underclassmen. Depending on how well one performed at LDAC, one’s overall score is thrown into a system. Eventually, one chooses between Active Duty, Army Reserves, or Army National Guard. Within that decision, one must also choose three branch choices: anything from infantry to military intelligence to medical corps. Once a top three has been chosen, the Army assigns one an occupation. More training occurs senior year, until finally one is commissioned as a lieutenant.
"After being commissioned as a lieutenant, from there it is tailored to the individual. There is no one particular set track that everyone follows. The big choice is going active or reserve because active duty means the Army is your career every day. With the Reserves, you can have a civilian job and work one weekend a month and two weeks a year training with your Army unit," Piro explained. After four years, one has the option whether or not they wish to continue their military career.
Many ROTC members receive scholarships to attend BC and be an integral part of the program. Although there are a range of scholarships, the full four-year scholarship includes tuition plus a monthly stipend and book money—everything besides room and board. The requirement for this scholarship is four years of active duty after college or six years in the Reserve or National Guard.
This Wednesday, Mar. 21, ROTC is holding an open PT session at 6 a.m. at the Plex to show the greater BC community what their training is like. The workout will be tailored so that it is available for everyone. Piro and Winglass described it as a sort of "bring a friend to army day" and promise it will be a mix of fun and exercise—a chance for the rest of the school to get a dose of their daily medicine.