When someone signs up to be a Wake Forest ROTC cadet, they agree to balance the rigors of Wake Forest and the serious training required to commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. Cadets in the “NO FEAR!” battalion are held to the highest physical, academic, and moral standards. Led by a team of seasoned veterans of America’s War on Terror, these Wake Forest students spend their college years training for the most important job of their lives: to defend this nation.
The weekly ROTC responsibilities for a cadet consist of three physical training sessions at 6 o’clock or earlier in the morning, a three hour lab on Thursdays that often involves tactics training, and a three-credit-hour Military Science course. These obligations, however, are only the bare minimum. Often, a cadet will have other assignments such as helping out area JROTC units or making sure all other cadets in the battalion have the correct equipment for a training event.
In addition to weekly tasks, a cadet must attend a once-a-semester field training exercises event, and as well as spend a portion of his or her summers, between both freshman and sophomore years and between junior and senior years, in training. There are other opportunities, such as Air Assault School or Airborne School, and many cadets choose to pursue these and other training events when they have the time.
While only three days a week, waking up for multiple 6 a.m workouts each week can throw a wrench in a college student’s sleep schedule. In the fall, cadets have the opportunity to participate in the Ranger Challenge – a nationwide competition in infantry small unit tactics for ROTC and West Point cadets. Students who are early-morning regulars at the Pit can often see the Ranger Challenge team pounding protein shakes and depleting the hard boiled egg supply.
In addition to the early mornings, balancing academic performance, social life, and the various responsibilities of being a cadet can be extremely challenging. Most cadets participate in one or more campus organizations that also compete for their time and energy.
Cadets also often have to deal with amusing complaints levied against them because of their activities on campus. Campus police was once contacted about an “invasion of armed men on campus” because someone mistook cadets wearing the uniform of their country and carrying fake weapons to be some sort of hostile force on campus. Now, the battalion has to notify campus police before training with dummy weapons as to not appear to be staging a military coup against the social justice warriors.
Since September 11th, the United States has been in a perpetual state of war. Anyone who joins ROTC with any intention of going into combat has a very real chance of seeing war on foreign land.
Some people like to talk about how the world is safer now than it has been for a long time. But, people should ask a recently deployed servicemember about the safety and stability of the world today.
The world is not a “safe space.”
Despite this reality, and sometimes because of it, Americans still choose to volunteer for the armed forces, some through ROTC. Cadets at Wake Forest University face a future that is, at times, uncertain, but for many, this is a small price to pay to contribute to the organization that not only made their freedom possible, but also keeps that freedom alive.
Logan Stinson (’18) contributed to this article along with Owen Pickard.