News: Wyoming Army Guard helps build the foundation of officer corps
Story by 1st Lt. Christian Venhuizen
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Army National Guard helped turn a visit to the University of Wyoming, for more than 70 high school and other prospective college students, into a showcase of military leadership, tactics and alternative ways to pay for a degree.
“The (Army ROTC Recon) event is designed for high school juniors, seniors, and recent high school graduates that are interested in either serving in the military, commissioning through Army ROTC, attending college, or all of the above,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy Chuhralya, Wyoming Army National Guard ROTC advisor and instructor. “The entire purpose is to provide options and information to kids looking for some guidance upon completion of high school.”
The Wyoming Army National Guard offers a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP), Chuhralya said. The program allows Army ROTC students to serve in the National Guard while maintaining their status as cadets attending a college or university.
“As a full-time student, the National Guard pays 100% tuition and fees, pays out a monthly GI Bill and Kicker, a monthly drill paycheck, and leadership opportunities to shadow company grade officers,” he said. “In addition, ROTC will pay you a monthly stipend, and sometimes even offers additional room and board scholarships based on performance. Since your tuition and fees are already covered, if you receive any additional scholarships from sources outside these two organizations, you get more money in your pocket.”
University of Wyoming Army ROTC Cadet Zebulan Colter is in the SMP program. He’s said he is about to graduate with an engineering degree and is the top ranked engineering cadet in the ROTC’s 5th Brigade, covering ROTC programs in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
“I was told you get to do on the job training,” Colter said of why he chose the SMP. “I was able to go in, and not only do the ROTC training…but also got to keep drilling and shadow lieutenants around the units to kind of figure out what they do, what lieutenants do and just figure out how to become a leader and develop those leadership skills.”
Colter spoke to the prospective students after an ROTC demonstration of military tactics. He described the strong sense of camaraderie and family the cadets have.
Thomas Summerbell, of Fallon, Nev., currently living in Big Piney, Wyo., said he liked what he saw and heard and wants to enroll in ROTC through the SMP, “because the opportunities for schooling are great and I want to build leadership skills.” Summerbell said he also likes the idea of the camaraderie.