As the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) continues to expand at APU, the program is excited to see what the future holds—not only for the program or the university but also for the young men and women who have decided to serve and defend our country. The ROTC’s goal is to prepare future officers for the U.S. Army while developing people of faith.
Christianity and faith play a major role for many of the 42 committed cadets enrolled in the ROTC program. ROTC Officer in Charge, Capt. Chris Young, explains how APU’s faith-based community makes it such a unique and united program.
“It always seems that the APU cadets are a little more “tight knit” and are a better team, and I think that has a lot to do with their [faith], along with sharing the same values and morals,” Young said.
Public Affairs Officer and APU senior, history major Calvin Blais elaborated what faith in the ROTC means to him as a cadet and a student at APU.
“In the army, there’s that sense of brotherhood, and the community that APU has just expounded upon that,” Blais said. “We’ve gotten so close, especially though faith. I know a couple of cadets who actually do Bible studies in their free time, and we strive to build camaraderie and a family aspect in this program.”
Not only is the ROTC program like one big family, but they all live typical student lives. Even though they are preparing for a career in the army, the life of a college cadet in the program isn’t much different from the life of a normal college student. All cadets still go to classes, attend social functions, join clubs, go to sporting events and even work part-time jobs. ROTC Company Executive Officer and senior history major Forrest Tylutki explained how he feels like any other college student.
“None of us here have been so consumed by ROTC that we can’t be college students. I formed the history society [with Battalion Commander and senior history major Franklin Lentulo] on campus. We are fully involved. It’s not like you don’t have a life in the ROTC,” Tylutki explained, “You’re still a student. Our colonel will tell us all the time, “You’re a student first.'”
Since all cadets are still able to be students, a majority of them choose to stay in the ROTC program, simply because they enjoy it. There is no commitment to join unless a student decides to sign a contract with the U.S. Army or accept an ROTC scholarship.
Those who receive the scholarship have an eight year service obligation upon commissioning. The scholarship usually covers tuition, books, and a stipend of up to $500.
“It’s all non-commitment,” Battalion Commander Franklin Lentulo said. “Just by coming out to PT [physical training] or coming to lab, you’re not signing your life away to the army for 10 years. You are able to feel it out, and then decide whether this is something you want to do or not. It’s very lenient on people questioning whether they want to join the ROTC.”
Many students in the program feel that they have been called to lead others and be able to create future leaders. Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. Kenneth Lehew feels blessed and grateful to teach and mentor so many young men and women through this program.
“For me, this is about the army, not just the ROTC. This is just another assignment for us, but this is probably the most rewarding assignment I’ve had within my 22 years of experience,” Lehew said. “We are trying to teach lifelong learners, and that is the most important thing.”
On Saturday, Oct. 24, at APU’s Homecoming football game against South Dakota Mines, a few ROTC cadets will be initiated during halftime in front of the home crowd. The ROTC will also hold a special color guard performance in Wilden Hall on Veterans Day, Wednesday Nov. 11.
APU students interested in ROTC, but unsure if
the program is for them, can easily get involved without having to commit to
anything. Interested students can join all cadets for physical training every
Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6-7 a.m. on the Dillon Recreational Field on
East Campus. Students can also take the military science class from 2-3:30 p.m.
every Wednesday, in the Admin. 2 classroom near the Dillon field.