BYU’s ROTC helps students achieve their goals

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Dani Jardine
BYU ROTC cadets take a break for lunch at Camp Williams in Riverton, Utah. The BYU Army ROTC dates back to April 1968. (Dani Jardine)

BYU’s ROTC program helps students with everything from financial aid, to job placement, to encouraging students to complete their education and succeed in the real world.

BYU ROTC cadet Jerron Orton said the idea of joining the military can be scary for many students.

“Students say stuff like, ‘I don’t want to join the military — I’ll get shot,'” Orton said.

Orton explained joining the corps isn’t quite like what some people imagine it to be.

“There are tons of non-combat jobs,” Orton said. “There are army medics who never see combat at all and just help soldiers with rehabilitation. There are signal corps officers who work on radios and never see a battlefield — and that’s just a few of the jobs out there.”

Orton said students can receive benefits from the ROTC without having to risk their lives. ROTC programs offer significant financial aid to students, and in return, students are expected to dedicate a few years to military service after graduating. Orton said this isn’t a drawback — it’s another bonus.

“It’s essentially 100 percent job placement,” Orton said. “As soon as you get out of college you are immediately given a job. How many times have you applied for a job but they say they need one to two years of experience? Well, after serving in a military position for a few years, you’ll be more than qualified for another job.”

Orton gave the example of a member of the Ordinance Corps, the division in charge of getting guns and ammo to troops on the battlefield. Orton said if a person can get supplies out to troops in a war, then after their military service they should be capable of handling a civilian shipping job.

Jack Sturgeon, Recruiting Operations Officer for the BYU Army ROTC division, said the financial reimbursement for students can be very significant.

“An ROTC scholarship will pay tuition and put over $9,000 in the student’s bank account to spend however he or she desires,” Sturgeon said.

Cadet Kevin Lewis, a member of the BYU ROTC, has found financial aid to be a big blessing in his life.

“It definitely gives you peace of mind. I have my military scholarship money, and I work a job, but honestly I only have that job because I like the work I do,” Lewis said. “My wife and I are very happy with where we’re at financially, and that’s largely thanks to the ROTC.”

Lewis also found being a member of the ROTC has contributed to his identity as a BYU student. Lewis said the military aspect of his life has become a part of who he is.

He said he has friends in his ward and classes, but the bonds he’s developed with his friends in the ROTC are different. These are the kinds of friendships that will stick with him his entire life, rather than just buddies he’ll know for one semester, according to Lewis.

Serving in the military was not Lewis’s childhood dream, and it’s not something he plans to do for the rest of his life, but the things he’s learned and the people he’s met have made an impact that will stay with him forever.

Sturgeon said those considering joining the ROTC should come talk to him in the Wells building. The ROTC has much to offer, but fits into people’s lives in different ways. He looks at each student’s situation to determine if there’s a way ROTC can fit into their plans. Students can also check out the Army ROTC website for more information.