Students campaign to establish campus ROTC program

David Gutman

Saddleback College students are campaigning to establish an Army Reserve Officers Training Corps program as well as an affiliate campus club.

The brainchild behind this crusade is Ryan Choye, 19, criminal justice, who has been working on achieving this goal since first attending Saddleback in fall 2009.

“I wanted to join because I believe that people should have an idea that when you are in ROTC, you are a part of something much larger than life,” said Choye, the former senior cadet commander.

ROTC is a program focused on leadership development, strategic planning, ethics, and general problem solving. The Army, Navy, and the Air Force all have their own respective ROTC programs. While different, they all have a similar objective to help prepare all those who join, according to Goarmy.com.

The common misconception of the ROTC is that people believe the program is designed for recruitment as its sole purpose, Choye said.

A student can be in the program for a period of up to two years without obligation of military service. A student wishing to go further can be eligible for a military scholarship for classes at the university of the student’s choice or go to a specific military college such as West Point Academy.

In return for the scholarship the student is obligated to a four-year term of military service. After graduating, the student is ranked an officer.

For recruits who do not finish college, the cap for ranks within the military stops at sergeant, but for those that went through ROTC or any other college, they can progress up the chain of command.

Choye has already successfully recruited about 150 interested students, and he said the group feels confident at reaching their goals.

When Choye first started to progress toward his goal, he met with fellow students, Kim Kratchoff, 21, ultrasound technology, and Adam Matthews, 23, undeclared. The three are now good friends and also want to bring ROTC to Saddleback College.

Soon the group plans on increasing awareness of the advantages offered by ROTC by passing out fliers and encouraging students to sign a petition on campus.

For Choye, ROTC began to manifest in high school. While participating in sports such as track and field and cross country, Choye was influenced by his coaches who were a part of the Junior-ROTC. After graduating high school and attending Saddleback, Choye said that there are ROTC programs on university campuses and not as readily available at community colleges.

“It’s not just for me, I believe that others should have the benefit of having an ROTC program without having to go to great lengths to get to one,” Choye said. “Otherwise their only option is to transfer to a college that supports an ROTC unit after graduating from Saddleback.”

After graduating, Choye plans on becoming an advocate for community college ROTC units.

In their favor, President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress last Tuesday, the President is also supportive of their cause.

“…I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC,” Obama said. “It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

“To be honest, it’s kind of a creepy coincidence to think that we have been working so hard for this to happen,” Kratchoff said. “And not a week ago, the president is all of the sudden on our side.”

Choye and the others look to the future with new resolve to become a part of a ROTC at Saddleback.

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