Programs serve military veterans, future officers

Hannah Hartline
Jarrod Mack considered not attending college until he saw an opportunity in Troy University’s ROTC program.
Mack, a political science major from Robertsdale, Alabama, who was a senior in the spring, said that joining the Army ROTC was not initially his plan. His dad set him on the path to joining.
“I got in because originally I wanted to enlist (in the military) out of high school but decided it was best to go to college,” Mack said. “My dad found out about the Army ROTC scholarship, which I applied for and received.”
The university has a variety of programs aimed toward guaranteeing the success of military students both on campus and online.
For students hoping to become involved in the military after graduation, the university offers both Army and Air Force ROTC.
ROTC stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and it provides scholarships to students at varying class ranks.
Air Force ROTC is a two-year program at Troy, while other universities have four-year programs. Troy is one of just two universities in the United States that offer a two-year Air Force ROTC program.
“There are certain advantages to being a two-year program,” said the commander of the Air Force ROTC, Lt. Col. Carlos Garcia. “There is cost savings in that you don’t have to take the classes right away.
“You are free to do as you want, but the double edge to that is that when students show up as a junior, they may not have had the self-discipline, and that can disqualify them.”
In order to be competitive for AFROTC, a student must have a grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, the Air Force classes, a medical exam and a physical fitness exam.
Students must possess strong moral standards
of integrity, respect and discipline and have the ability to lead but also to follow.
The AFROTC program strongly encourages leadership among cadets with controlled exercises that allow them to practice leadership skills.
“Leadership is a very important pillar,” Garcia said. “We practice what we teach, letting them lead their peers in training exercises.”
Tech. Sgt.  Jillian Shandrew said that even if students do not become commissioned officers of the Air Force, they learn valuable skills that set them apart from fellow students.
“Whether you get commissioned or not, you are going to have one step above your peers,” Shandrew said.
Students are also encouraged to join the Trojan Air Club, which is not part of AFROTC. The student-led club meets once a month during the semester, and all students are welcome to attend, not just those in the AFROTC.
A four-year military program is offered through the Army ROTC.
Capt. Aicha Williamson, its department chair, said that the Army ROTC offers students structure and is a great way to gain leadership skills.
“We welcome everyone,” Williamson said. “It will help you gain valuable leadership characteristics, even if you are not interested in joining the military.”
The program trains students to become leaders in the military, according to Williamson.
A student can receive $300 to 500 for a monthly stipend in both Air Force and Army ROTC, depending upon class rank. There is also an opportunity to earn a housing scholarship, and approximately 15 are granted to ROTC students every semester.
Jarrod Mack said that his journey began in his freshman year when he learned basic leadership skills and signed a contract saying that he would serve after graduation. In the spring, he served as the public relations cadet for the Army ROTC.
Another office of the university is geared toward students who have already served in the military.
In December 2012, the Troy University Board of Trustees passed a resolution to create Troy for Troops, which serves as a bridge between the military and academic worlds. Troy has a history of working with the United States military for more than five decades.
The Troy for Troops center is in Trojan Center 122 and has a counseling center, a computer lab, informational packages and a lounge where veterans can come for help or just to have camaraderie with students who have been through similar experiences.
Dave Barron, a retired Navy captain and associate vice chancellor for military affairs, said that the hardest thing for students to overcome is the cultural break between the military and the academic world.
“You can have someone who has served 20 years in the military, and they can be a true freshman,” Barron said. “They come from a culture break.
“The transition for a person coming from active duty or an extended tour is not over. We try to get them into the path. We want them to have a good degree plan, and know what they’re going to do with it. We want them to know what they’re going to do after. We want academic and career success.”
According to Barron, the number of military students at Troy ranges from 24 to 33 percent any given semester, and includes not only military veterans, but also dependents of military families.
Troy for Troops has locations on several Troy University campuses as well as online through Blackboard.
“Whether logging in online from Afghanistan or joining us in classrooms at our many campuses and sites, we want members of the military to know that we understand their unique needs and are here to support them,” according to the Troy for Troops website.
Students who are interested in learning more about these programs can visit the respective ROTC offices. The Army ROTC office is at 720 Elm St.; the website is
The Air Force ROTC office is in McCartha Hall, Suite 1, or students can visit

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