Opportunities are for Everyone
By Cadet David Laforge
One thing people may consider when they join AFROTC is their previous military background, or lack thereof. Having no formal interaction with the military prior to ROTC may deter some potential cadets. Likewise, prior enlisted people may be apprehensive about going through a training environment again.
From my time in AFROTC, I can certainly say that people of every experience level can and do attain success in the program. In fact, many outstanding cadets I’ve trained with have had no military affiliations whatsoever. Coming into the program, they said they basically had no idea what the military was about. They were the first ones in their family to put on a uniform, and are now successful leaders. I’ve seen prior enlisted people, even some with combat experience, become very well-adept in ROTC as well.
I myself come from an Air Force family. I’ve been a military dependent my whole life and I’ve lived on bases across the world, finally settling to start college in Fall 2009 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin. I joined AFROTC Detachment 930, hosted at Marquette University. “Wisconsin is not a hotbed of military activity!” our colonel joked with us in the first week, as many cadets there, freshmen through seniors, were among the first ones in their families to associate with the military. He then indicated the importance that although our future is up to us, our stepping up to the line to put on the uniform already spoke much about our character.
As the semester gained momentum and classes, Leadership Laboratory, and Physical Training were in full swing, us new cadets were amazed at how authentically the upperclassmen embodied the military ideal from two or three years of training, and most of them were from a civilian background. As my class progressed through training, we all realized that our success as leaders is up to us and how we help and mentor each other, no matter where we came from.
I had transferred to AFROTC Detachment 207 in Fall 2010, now attending SIU Edwardsville. With Scott Air Force Base nearby, it follows that there are more military dependents, prior enlisted, and JROTC-types at Detachment 207. And, there are people who haven’t had those opportunities, and again, they become successful too.
The same rules apply here as they did in Wisconsin: the important thing is for those who do have experience to share their knowledge with those who do not. This way, everyone ends up at the same advantage. At Field Training, two prior enlisted cadets were in my flight of 28 cadets. They had no qualms about being back in a training environment. They used their experience to mentor and aide the rest of us, and all 28 of us were successful in the end.
Those milestones in AFROTC like being successful in aerospace class, getting your Prop and Wings at the end of Field Training, and finally commissioning, are definitely shared opportunities that are open to people of all backgrounds.
- Learn more about SLU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 207