"Most people have this impression that everybody in the army is going to have a rifle and go running down a street in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Stoner, chairman of the Department of Military Science at Pittsburg State University. "That's just not reality. For every one individual that is shooting, there are four or five that are supporting them."
There are, in fact, 16 branches of the U.S. Army, ranging from nurses to engineers to field artillery team members. To help PSU juniors and seniors enrolled in the ROTC program figure out just which branch would suit them best, Stoner brought in 12 officers who have served in a variety of the Army's branches.
The group, comprised of majors-in-training from Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kan., spoke to the PSU students Nov. 18 in the PSU Student Recreation Center and Kansas National Guard Armory.
While each of the officers spoke about the advantages of their particular branch of the military, there were a few themes common to all of the speakers. One was the importance of working together, as many of the branches interact with one another in everyday operations - a point emphasized by the presence of representatives from the Navy and Air Force.
Another recurring theme was life after hanging up the boots.
"Your life after active duty is affected by which branch you choose," said Maj. Brian Memoli, a logistics officer.
Another logistics officer received on-the-job training from Exxon Mobil, and now has a wide variety of employment opportunities.
Maj. Robert Leiato said he chose to be a finance officer because he, too, was thinking about his future career, while a soldier who chose the engineering corps said engineers are among the most versatile soldiers on the battlefield, learning valuable experience for any number of careers.
"What we're trying to help cadets understand is, yes, if they want to be an instrument and get in the fight, there's a way to do that, but there are lots of ways to serve the country and the military," Stoner said.
Students said they were glad to hear from experienced soldiers. John Paul Horsch, a senior, said he plans to go into nursing, but he enjoyed hearing about other branches of military service.
"It was interesting to hear about Civil Affairs," Horsch said. "You don't really hear about it, and it goes back to when you get out of the Army. There will be lots of opportunities."
Emery Baughan, also a senior, just recently found out he was going to be in Military Intelligence.
"When I was told I was going to be a military intelligence officer, I didn't know what they did," Baughan said. "It's nice for the underclassmen to be able to get experience with the details of each branch."
Stoner expressed gratitude toward the officers for coming to help out PSU cadets.
"They drove down on their own time and their own dime today," Stoner said. "It's a good opportunity to reach out and touch future officers, and help them with the decisions they'll make that will affect their careers."
For more information on the ROTC program at PSU, call (620) 235-4859.
©2008 Pittsburg State University