As the unemployment rate across the nation and within our own state rises to staggering heights, some Tech students are finding job security under the branches of our armed forces in this country. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics the national average unemployment rate has risen to 10 percent, while Tenn.’s rate has climbed to 10.9 percent. In comparison Tenn.’s rate a year ago was just 7.6 percent. To put in layman’s terms, that is 89,400 folks losing jobs in one year. Similarly, the ROTC program here at Tech has doubled over the past year and tripled over the past 3 years according to Major Jim Reed. This time last year ROTC stood at 48 men and women, today is at 96.
Travis Potts, a freshman, named two factors he believes to be highly influential in joining the ROTC program: full tuition paid for, along with other financial assistance in regards to housing, meal plans, and even textbooks and the Simultaneous Membership Program, which can go hand in hand with being apart of the National Guard Reserves. In his case, being a member of the reserves requires him to attend training exercises and remain in shape to pass physical tests. So being in ROTC at Tech demands the highest physical condition with its own training exercises and physical training three to five mornings a week. He receives a paycheck for his service in the National Guard Reserve and is guaranteed at graduation the rank of 2nd lieutenant which comes with its own paycheck.
Katherine Gingrich, a freshman, said that one incentive for her was job security. Gingrich spoke of how she has no worries about having a job when she graduates because she is guaranteed one. Gingrich’s major is dietetics and ROTC is an addition to her major.
Another benefit Gingrich and Potts both see great value in, is how the Army and all United States Armed Forces takes care of their men and women providing a house on base with utilities paid, along with full dental, health, and even grocery and uniform allowance.
“You go through elementary school to get to middle school so then you can get to high school and finally college. ROTC is to get to the Army,” Potts said.
Beyond financial assistance and a great way to stay in shape, ROTC and the military science department at Tech offer classes that teach of customs and regulations within the Army.
Gingrich also spoke of ROTC as is tight knit and very personable. Major Reed and Lieutenant Colonel Dickie, get to know students individually and take interest.
As the ROTC program at Tech continues to grow, the intimate relationship that would be expected with smaller numbers comparable to a few years still remains.