Second thoughts about ROTC

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Speedyspiff, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. Speedyspiff

    Speedyspiff New Member

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    Hey everyone, I was recently lucky enough to be awarded a 3 year Army ROTC scholarship. My family is in fine economic shape, and I have been constantly reminded by my parents that they could afford to help pay for college.

    For the last year and a half, I've been seriously considering joining the military and have been able to imagine myself having a great time in the military. However, recently I've been starting to get cold feet. Whenever I think about service, I'm terrified of dying or being crippled and horribly disfigured from an IED. I've also been finding myself fearing that I won't be able to fit in with my fellow cadets, and that I will ultimately come to hate ROTC. And lastly, I've been worried about what civilian opportunities I am "losing" by dedicating my early youth to the military. At the same time, I can't help but feel like I'm going to regret not doing ROTC for the rest of my life.

    Please don't get me wrong, I love the United States and I understand the unique privilege that I have been given as a scholarship recipient. I'm just not sure if my interest in ROTC or the military is truly based on my desire to lead, or is just based on superficial reasons like the bravado and honor that comes with service.

    Based on this, would you say that I have what it takes to make it through ROTC, or if I'm better off in the civilian world?
     
  2. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Speedyspiff: I am not qualified to "talk you off the ledge" and won't address the psychological questions you pose.

    I would like to point out, however, that ROTC scholarships are unlike enlisted contracts. You have the unique opportunity to join ROTC and work through these feelings for a year before your obligation starts. My recommendation (provided you are not dead set against military service) is to join and give it your all. Spend time talking to your cadre about military service, experience some aspects of it as a ROTC student. You have nothing to lose and a lot of feelings can be sorted out in that timeframe.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I agree 100%

    That's the nice thing about ROTC, you can test drive it for a year to see if it is for you. You have nothing to lose trying it out and then you will be able to make a well informed decision. Accept the scholarship, enroll in ROTC and see how you feel about it after you have been involved for a while.

    Don't worry, everyone has second thoughts, your lucky, you can try it out first before you committ.
     
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  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    First, as usual, +1 to USMCGrunt. You have nothing to lose by trying it for a year while you sort through these feelings, including whether you fit in with the other cadets.

    I don't mean to inspire fear in you, but you are right to be fearful about the things you mention (perhaps not about fitting in - but the rest). These are possibilities. Any soldier in a combat zone who says he is not afraid is lying to you... or just plain stupid. Fear is normal. That being said, and I haven't looked at the stats, you perhaps have better odds of being killed in a car accident here in the States than those things happening to you.

    As far as future regrets: From about 8 years old I wanted to attend USMA. While in high school I also had a Naval Reservist who was working on me to attend USNA. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I graduated from high school in 1970. In 1969 when I would have been applying, we were in the throes of the Viet Nam war, one year after Tet, Nixon was bombing Cambodia and was about to invade Cambodia. The military was not popular at the time and the war was definitely unpopular, and I caved to peer pressure not to pursue my dream which was fading somewhat at that time anyway. When I look back now I suppose there is some regret, perhaps especially as I now live that dream vicariously through my son. (BTW - I never mentioned this or his going into the military until he appeared to be serious about it himself when a junior in high school). However, I've been happy with my life and things would definitely have turned out differently for me if I had pursued a career in the military... and most importantly.. .this son, this particular son, would never have been born. He's the greatest blessing in my life. Point is, you may wonder, but I don't think you'll ever really regret any decision you make in this regard. All turns out for the best.

    Good luck as you sort through this.
     
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  5. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    Yup...give it a try. If you figure out it's not for you, at least you'll have no regrets. If you figure out it's something you want to do, you'll be getting help paying for school.
    I think your fear of wasting your youth is way off base. The years you serve are going to be anything but wasted. You will be building the kind of resume most of your peers will only be dreaming about. after your 4 year obligation you will be poised to enter the corporate world at a tested manager and leader, or you will be poised to continue to take on the increased responsibility the Army will have for you.
    When I look at my cadets and see how far they come in 4 years, I understand your concerns, but I would tell you that you will be ready in 4 years.
    You've got a year and a half to figure it out. Take your time.
     
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  6. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Again Clarkson gives great advice.

    I just want to reinforce what Clarkson said about not wasting 4 years of your youth in the military.

    A fellow high school classmate asked my son this same question when he told them he was doing ROTC, they told him he would be wasting 4 years before he could join the civilian workforce and would be 4 years behind. This was my son's response:

    Son told the person, When I graduate and commission I will be a 2LT, if I decide to leave the Army after four years I will have 4 years of management experience, chances are you will not have been in a management position before I get out of the Army. I don't see that as being behind, I see it as being ahead.

    Like Clarkson said, you have plenty of time to figure it all out.
     
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  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    As usual, I am going to give a different twist.

    Bullet flew fighters with the AF and jumped out of perfectly good airplanes with the 82nd AB for 2 yrs. People asked me aren't you worried he will die, become paralyzed, etc.

    Same thing you are questioning. We were from NJ. I told them more people die, get injured, disfigured, etc on the Jersey TPKE or Parkway every yr than what he was doing at that time.

    Yes, for the past decade death, injuries, mental and physical are all over the news. However, if that is what keeping you, start investigating how many people die in automobile accidents or shootings every yr. I am betting that 1 yr total is higher than the Army's count.

    Part of this life is IMPO believing in fate, and a path. Thankfully, Bullet served 21 yrs and is alive today, our DS is now an AF O1. My thing is if that is their fate, at least they were happy.

    Just food for thought...will you be a 40 yr old wondering the path that you didn't choose?


    As others have stated. It is a freebie yr. No harm, no foul
     
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  8. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    With the financial aspect of ROTC seemingly a non-issue, you now have turned to the reality of the experience as a consideration.

    And as others above have mentioned, you wouldn't be normal if you didn't consider the risks.

    What the military offers you is training that allows you to evaluate and take appropriate risks as a leader, so you are not stuck in the "paralysis by analysis" you seem to be approaching. There are very few opportunities like this in this skill you need to be successful in the "real" world of leadership.

    And the best thing is that you have a 1 year opportunity to try it "risk free" (no payback necessary) for the cost of your time and effort. Of course the benefit that comes from it is directly related to the time and effort you put into ROTC, but they will not put you in a situation where you cannot succeed if you believe in yourself. They have determined that you have what it takes and have offered you the opportunity to make that leap of faith. The question is "Do you have the courage to trust yourself to take that leap?"
     
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  9. nofodad

    nofodad Member

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    When our DS told us he would be applying for an ROTC scholarship we were against it. Our greatest concern was his safety. In the months that followed we had an opportunity to attend a national drill comp in Pensacola with his NJROTC unit. We were extremely impressed with the sailors that we met from all over the U.S. Many not much older than our son. I spoke to about a dozen people in my practice who were all military veterans about my son's plans, all them without exception said that their military service was one of the best decisions that they had made, even one gentleman who was only three months removed from Iraq encouraged my son to pursue his dream. But, as others have said, if its not for you-after a year, you can withdraw, no questions asked, owing nothing and pursue what comes next.
     
  10. pathnottaken

    pathnottaken Member

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    My advice is the same as above try it for a year, but really try it, don't just go along for the ride, be complete comitted. At the end of your freshman year re-evaluate, you should be doing this with your life on a regular bases as you anyway.

    I have similar story to Kinnem, I got an ROTC scholarship in the early 70's when service to ones country wasn't looked at in a good light. I took the scholarship. At that time one was suppose to be in the program for the full four years or go into Army as an enlisted if you dropped out, no trial period.

    I found out quickly that it was not for me and was lucky to have have large RIF accure and I was able to be discharge without obligation.

    My son is now accepted at VMI and is going to do anything he can to become the army officer (he is not on scholarship). I have no regrets for my choice, and I am proud of my son for his.
     
  11. rebelyell

    rebelyell New Member

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    Hey Speedy....everybody is afraid of dying, it is a human response to the unknown. As a Marine officer, flying in not so air-worthy helicopters, and other fun things, for eight years, I don't regret a single day. Besides the friends that I made in NROTC (at Ole Miss), I have memories of my time in the Corps that will last a lifetime. Since that time I have been in law enforcement in an urban area, which on any given day could be my last. I tell you this because I have a son who this year received both an Army and NROTC scholarship. I had my concerns, but in the end it was his choice. You must do what you think is right for you. I must tell you though that there is something about being the "tip of the spear" that is so rewarding that the fear of dying pales in comparison. God bless you in whatever you decide.
     
  12. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    this.

    There was a Businessweek or Fortune (sorry can't remember which) article about two years ago discussing how much Fortune 500 companies covet Jr. Officers. They appreciate their maturity, leadership experience, moral character and ability to solve problems in groups. They usually fast-track them into significant positions of responsibility with significant pay very quickly.
     
  13. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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  14. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Thanks PIMA, helpful for me too as the d word approaches. Been doing a lot of thinking on this lately.
     
  15. Tomboysuze

    Tomboysuze Member

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