SAN JOSE – Throughout top San Francisco Bay area campuses, interest the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is on the rise, according to cadets and recruiters.
Some involved with the program point to the events of Sept. 11 as galvanizing support for the Army ROTC as increased patriotism has brought with it a newfound respect for the military minded.
David Lavalle, a Stanford political science major and Army ROTC cadet, said the events of Sept. 11th have “given even more justification to what I’m doing.” Lavelle hopes his training and leadership skills honed during his time in the military program will help him the in the business world once he graduates.
“You are put in charge of people and you are held responsible,” Lavelle told the San Jose Mercury News. “The people under you and above you depend on you.”
Enrollment in the Army ROTC is at about 30,000 nationwide. That’s up nearly 5 percent from last year’s total. The Army ROTC program that serves students at Santa Clara University, Stanford and San Jose State University has 30 freshman cadets this year, the largest new enrollment in recent years.
Gary Hernandez Jr. turned down an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy for a chance to attend Stanford, but he didn’t lose the military bug entirely. He signed up for the Army ROTC.
Bay Area college campuses that once were less than welcoming to the military-in-training presence of the Army ROTC may have softened their stance a bit. Hernandez says his Cardinal classmates are no longer amazed that he plans to join the Army following his graduation.
“Some people still have the ‘ROTC-Nazi’ mentality, which is crazy. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Hernandez said. He said he hadn’t expected the new respect he’s received for the program in the days and weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Col. Gus Anderson, who runs the Army ROTC program, attributes the some of the bump in enrollment to incentive packages that help students pay for college.