ROTC – Regaining Popularity

The Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) has been a fixture on college campuses for almost a century now. ROTC scholarships are a great way to pay for college. It is also a great way to start life: a guaranteed job after graduation, no college debt, management experience and serving your country. My college tuition was paid for by the Army through ROTC. I currently have twin boys in college who will be commissioned this May, both of whom obtained Army ROTC scholarships.

ROTC CadetDuring the 1960s and 1970s, ROTC was very unpopular. During my ROTC days at the University of Wisconsin, we were not allowed to wear uniforms, nor did we have haircut regulations. This applied (the uniform part anyway) to instructors too. Apparently the year before I arrived, some students chased some ROTC cadets and an instructor all over campus trying to urinate on them! Madison, too, was the hotbed of radical anti-Vietnam protests. There had been fatalities when radicals bombed a university building, and protests that frequently got out of hand were common. In a student body of over 40,000 at the time, there were only 70 ROTC Army cadets including me.

Today students are clamoring to get into ROTC. Enrollments are high. The standards to get an ROTC scholarship have risen. If you don’t have SAT scores above 600, participated in High School sports and served in a leadership position before college such as captain of a sports team or student council, you likely will not get a scholarship.

The scholarship rules vary among the services. The Navy and Air Force now require a commitment to major in one of their needed disciplines such as math, engineering, certain languages like Arabic or Russian, etc. They also cap, with certain exceptions, the maximum tuition they will reimburse. The Army, however, still permits you to major in whatever subject you want and has no cap on tuition reimbursement.

Many universities and colleges now provide free housing to ROTC scholarship recipients too. Some that have not offered ROTC for decades have recently reinstated ROTC to campus.

No one wanted infantry when I was in ROTC. No one wanted to live in a tent, go to Vietnam, etc. The infantry had to draft ROTC cadets into that branch of Army service. The most popular branch at that time was Adjutant General (AG) Corp. Today, the opposite is true. The Army has to force cadets to go in the AG branch, and has more volunteers for Infantry than they can use. If you don’t have a college GPA close to a 3.5 or better, your chances of getting Infantry are slim.

The vast majority of ROTC cadets desire active duty, too. They want to serve their country. It is a heartening development and a glimmer of good news given the anti-military sentiment of many in government.

I will be off for a week in May to attend my sons’ commissioning at their respective schools. They are, by the way, required to wear their uniforms and have a military style haircut. Neither of them complained during their four years at college, and both can’t wait to report to Infantry Officer Basic as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bill Gaskill

Mr. Gaskill has over 20 years of extensive international experience with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, followed by 10+ years in the corporate sector.During his career at State, he developed and led comprehensive security programs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.He was Chief of Security at five U.S. Embassies:Tel Aviv, Athens, Lima, Nicosia and Lome.He has worked in more than 144 countries and has an extensive network of global contacts.His areas of professional expertise include risk assessments, physical security, access control, guard force operations and management, counter terrorism, investigations, foreign security liaison, personal protection and Emergency Plans and Preparations.

As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.

As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.

Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.

Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.
Bill Gaskill
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7 thoughts on “ROTC – Regaining Popularity

  1. Congratulations to both of your fine young men. You must be very proud. May God keep them safe throughout their lives.

  2. The Air Force does not require a technical degree field. The selection rates are higher for technical than non-technical, but they are not excluded. My son is currently enrolled in college under contract with the Air Force with a technical degree, but there are cadets in the detachment with history majors etc. that are non-technical/ non-rated. Air Force categorizes their slots as tech/non-tech and rated/non-rated. The rated slots are the cadets who are going on to be pilots/navigators. Just providing the info in case the article made some potential cadets feel they didn’t have a USAF option if they didn’t want to pursue specific majors.

  3. Bill,

    I did ROTC at St. Bonaventure University while I was there, would one of your sons happen to be Kyle Gaskill? I knew him during my time there.

  4. Mr Gaskill, is their any way I could contact you? I also am about commission and am looking for a career path similar to what you have taken. Thanks in advance.

  5. Hi Dan,
    Yes. Kyle is my son. His twin brother is also going into the infantry and goes to Hampden-Sydney in VA.
    I am actually in the middle of proofreading the third version of his senior thesis at the moment!
    I will send him a text and tell him you asked about him.
    Alex,
    Sure, you can email me at wglg5642@gmail.com
    If I can be of assistance I’d be happy to help. bg

  6. Frank,
    Thanks for the clarification on the AF ROTC Scholarships.
    Your post explains it perfectly. bg

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