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Students Learn ROTC Ropes At WVSU
By Kera Mashek
May 7, 2014


INSTITUTE, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Military life certainly isn't easy, so joining the service isn't for everyone.

Recently, students from three Putnam County high schools learned some valuable lessons about what the armed forces are really like, and gained skills that will serve them well whether they decide to enlist or not.

It looked like a day of boot camp, but a group actually gathered for a day of learning outside the classroom for students from Hurricane, Poca, and Winfield High Schools. They're getting an up-close look at the ROTC program at West Virginia State University.

"Our expectations are to continue to recruit, train, and commission quality men and women to become leaders in the Army so one of the ways to do that is to introduce high school students to that," said Lt. Col. Tony Taylor, WVSU military science professor.

"We've learned that going into the military is hard work and it's going to be a lot of dedication," said Poca student Ryan Thayer.

These students went through drill after drill, and each step of the way they learned not only what it takes to be a soldier, ut also how to be a leader and work together as a team.

"This immensely helps me to become a team player. One of the practices that we did, we had to work as a team to get across a part using only two blocks of wood, and you have to rely on each other, so it forces you to become part of a team," said Winfield student Micah Doss.

Running through all of this, now has doss seriously considering joining the ROTC, but drill leaders insist that even if none of these students decide to join the service, this experience will leave them with valuable skills.

"It shows them a little bit of the importance of communication and working as a team... Everybody thinks you're going to join the Army and shoot a rifle and throw hand grenades, but they don't realize you really have to be part of the team, constantly talking," said Lt. Col. Taylor.

And if these students do become ROTC recruits, instructors say they'll gain a wealth of skills that can help them in any career path they may choose.

"We kind of talk with students about how they can come in and graduate with an undergraduate degree in anything from criminal justice, social work, biology, chemistry, and still be commissioned as a UH60 helicopter pilot or an artillery man, infantry offficers, medical services, nurses, etc.," Lt. Col. Taylor said.

"There's a lot of job training and educational experiences with the West Virginia National Guard and tuition assistance to help pay for college," said Staff Sgt. Adam Justice.

Students who join the ROTC are not automatically enlisted in the Army and the program consists of much more than physical training. There is a lot of coursework cadets undergo to help them become the community and business leaders of the future.

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