TROY Air Force ROTC expanding options for all students

Troy University Air Force ROTC cadets perform a drill on the Troy Campus quad.

Troy University Air Force ROTC cadets perform a drill on the Troy Campus quad.

Troy University’s “Det One-Seven” is flying high after its first semester in more than a decade as a four-year Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps detachment.

Last summer the Air Force upgraded the ROTC program at TROY, a move that allowed the detachment personnel to more effectively recruit Air Force ROTC students to TROY and provide cadets with expanded training opportunities.

The new expanded curriculum means that TROY students ultimately have a greater opportunity to commission as second lieutenants in the Air Force.

“This change has provided an expanded opportunity for TROY students to experience the Air Force way of life. We are now able to recruit from all levels: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and even seniors and post-graduates, for a limited time,” said Lt. Col. Carlos Garcia, the detachment’s commanding officer.

Lt. Col. Carlos Garcia
Lt. Col. Carlos Garcia

The expansion to a four-year program, bumping a detachment of 15 students to a high of 65 during the fall semester, has opened doors for recruiting not only for the Air Force, but for the University as well.

“Detachment 17 was hampered in its high school recruiting efforts because a student would have had to wait for two years before becoming eligible to participate in the two-year program or earn a scholarship. An entering freshman who wanted to go Air Force ROTC would have had to go to another school in order to receive a scholarship,” Garcia said. “Now that’s not an issue at all, and the increase in the number of cadets is proof that TROY has interest in serving the military.”

Another major shift, although time limited, is a program that will allow seniors and graduate students to enter Air Force ROTC, as long as they are enrolled full time.

“Now, a senior or graduate student can go through an abbreviated program –either two or three semesters – and be commissioned. This is a very limited program designed to meet some Air Force specific personnel requirements, but it presents an unprecedented opportunity for someone to get into the Air Force officer career,” said Garcia.

Garcia said historically only undergraduates were allowed to participate in ROTC programs, but now being able to recruit any full-time student opened doors for both the Air Force and the students that previously went unopened.

“The opportunity to get in the Air Force is wide open. The standards, however, remain unchanged,” he said.

Those standards include meeting a minimum 2.5 grade point average, passing medical and physical fitness tests, completing the Aerospace Studies curriculum, and completing field training.

The opportunity comes with a few incentives, too. Now, incoming TROY freshmen may qualify for the Air Force’s High School Scholarship Program that covers tuition, books and pays a monthly stipend that offsets some of the costs participating in ROTC. Students also potentially qualify for the In College Scholarship Program, a program that has identical benefits as the High School scholarship for students already in college.

ROTC students may also qualify for a special TROY ROTC Housing Scholarship, that Garcia calls a “reflection of how much the military is supported at TROY, to help cover the costs of living on-campus.”

With the temporary program changes, Garcia says virtually anyone who is a full-time student at any level can now have a pathway to an Air Force career.

“If you can meet the standards, you can be actively involved as a student right away,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many ways to get into the Air Force ROTC program.  If someone is interested, they absolutely should come visit our office for a potentially life changing conversation.”

The Air Force has called 2017 the ‘Year of Air Force ROTC.’