The professional and personal benefits of having a college degree in the 21st century are undeniable. Service members and veterans working multiple jobs while raising families see the value in devoting time and money to higher education. Unfortunately, they don't always consider applying to brick-and-mortar campuses because of a flurry of misconceptions regarding the experience and outcome of an online education. Online programs are notoriously marketed to service members by emphasizing low tuition costs and unparalleled convenience, but potential applicants are ill-informed about what an on-campus experience could offer.
As the largest commissioning source for officers in the U.S. military, ROTC programs for each branch span across the country. Comprised of wise cadre and (usually) enthusiastic cadets, they strive to build effective military leaders out of American college students. However, there are plenty of frustrations and absurdities along the yellow brick road to commissioning. The program’s long institutional history is culminated here into eight genuine aspects of being a cadet in ROTC.
Customs and traditions are firmly ingrained in those who serve in the military. Symbols such as our nation’s flag and ceremonies that surround it evoke powerful emotions to service members and veterans. So when I read Will DuVal’s Task & Purpose article on millennials’ problem with patriotism, I completely agreed with his argument that the American flag is often misrepresentative on boardshorts and bikinis and that patriotism gets boiled down a cheap tagline of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at a frat party. And it’s not just at frat parties. At sporting events, concerts, and political rallies, you can hear the chant over and over again. To some, it can appear cheap and hollow — a cop out to display patriotism without the required investment and sacrifice. But for many, this appears to be the only way to demonstrate such emotion. For millennials who may not have been old enough to serve immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, how do they spontaneously respond to the death of Osama bin Laden? Are millennials really doomed to show their love of country through half-hearted displays of patriotic fervor?
Let's face it. Talented young Americans are driven away from joining the active military for a multitude of reasons. They may want to maintain their freedom to live wherever they want, pursue higher education at their own pace, or have a full-time civilian career. Despite these barriers, many millennials still feel inclined to serve in some capacity.
One can only imagine how often student veterans facepalm as they walk across their college campus and see a hungover 18-year-old stumbling out of a dormitory wearing an Air Force pilot’s jumpsuit, a camouflage Boonie hat, and an American flag as a cape. Surely, this kid isn’t trying to impersonate a service member by rocking military garb, but such an occurrence raises the question of whether the wear of surplus military uniforms and the American flag violate the inherent respect civilians should have for objects of such symbolic importance.