ROTC provides opportunities for Wildcats

Graphic by Felisha Larsen

The U.S. Military provides a multitude of benefits to American soldiers, including the GI bill and fully paid tuition for students from the National Guard, Army and Army Reserves. Soliders also receive preference for jobs and guaranteed interviews with prestigious companies such as JP Morgan, Goodyear, Pepsi, and police and sheriff’s departments across the nation.

In conjunction with the Army, Army Reserves and National Guard, there is a Recruit Officer Training Corps program on campus.

“When you graduate, you are a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves or National Guard,” said Dan Yockey, civilian contracted recruiting officer.

Enrollment in the program contributes to a minor in military science, generally consisting of three-credit classes in which students meet for physical training and exercises, including land navigation and tactical paintball.

Contracting with the ROTC program covers all tuition expenses at Weber State University. Depending on academic year, students will also receive a stipend of $500 a month to be used for living expenses.

Freshmen and sophomores are able to participate in the program without a contract, but will be ineligible for the benefits if they do so. This allows more students to become acquainted with the program before making an absolute decision about continuing in military service throughout their academic careers.

Senior cadets with prior military service such as Joshua Koch, a senior at WSU and battalion executive officer of the ROTC program on campus, said he holds the program in high regard.

“It became pretty apparent to me that these guys are very good at what they do,” Koch said. “All the instructors are very knowledgeable and professional, and they really develop us to be better leaders.”

Military service and the ROTC can also benefit those struggling to pay for their schooling or wishing to steer clear of  student loans.

“One hundred percent of my school is paid for, and you can also get health and life insurance for really cheap,” said Trae Chappell, a sophomore at WSU and private first class in the U.S. Army.

Staff Sergeant Karlton Killebrew of the Ogden recruiting station explained that not all military jobs deal with direct combat. For example, if  someone’s job is to work with computers, “you are not going to be going out fighting, kicking in doors.” He said the military trains people to perform certain functions: Some are trained to fight in combat situations, and others are trained to perform auxiliary tasks that support combat troops.

The Ogden recruiting station offers the Future Soldier program, which meets every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. on the Ogden High School football track and is open to interested individuals. The program prepares candidates who are waiting to ship out to boot camp with physical training by teaching basic military drill and ceremony and key military knowledge designed to aid soliders when they attend boot camp.

Killebrew said the program gives interested individuals the opportunity to “try it before you buy it.” It prepares candidates for the challenges of boot camp and “helps you transition from a civilian into a soldier,” occasionally featuring active drill sergeants.

Not all the training is as intense. Sometimes the program will take members bowling or to play laser tag, which Killebrew said is an appreciated change.

“(It) takes away the pain, while still being tactical and fun.”

According to Killebrew, there is generally a negative stigma associated with recruiters, and the ROTC works to dispel that.

“We’re actually here to work and recruit through service . . . The Ogden recruiting station is here to support the community.”

Interested parties can contact the Ogden recruiting station at 801-627-2759 or visit the WSU ROTC program on campus in Annex 11.