Repurposing the ROTC


Last year, I was a participant in the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program.  One of the requirements was taking a special English course, LHSP 125.  My instructor was Professor Tim Hedges.  Professor Hedges completely changed my view of writing and his projects were very immersive.  One of the more interesting writing assignments was the Experience Essay.  Professor Hedges challenged us to put ourselves into a situation that we would not be comfortable in, and write about it.  The goal of course, was to not only select something interesting, but to pick something that would be a revelation to us.   It was difficult to decide on an experience, but eventually I decided that I would shadow the campus ROTC program for a week.  The campus ROTC program has a relatively strict policy on visitors, so I had to lie to the US government, and tell them that I was a prospective member, and not just a student writing a paper.  The paper ended up being a 10 page essay, one that described my personal journey though what was basically a week of ROTC training.  I’m really proud of my work, and I’m pretty sure that it’s the best piece of writing I’ve produced.  But the story isn’t quite there.  The essay lacks an ending, and really doesn’t feel complete.  I want to turn my essay into a publication-worthy piece, morph it into a short story.  For example, I write, “I started thinking about what Mr. Stevenson said earlier in the lesson, about soldiers being a family.  Maybe the teamwork and bond that I saw in Army commercials and movies wasn’t a myth.  But my doubts remained; after all, this was just one over-eccentric former Sergeant.”  The ROTC instructor, Mr. Stevenson, would consistently refer to this bond, and more sensitive subjects like PTSD, but I was never able to do research on either of these subjects.  In my repurposing project, I’m planning on conducting more interviews, delving more into the aspect of PTSD and college educated ROTC members.  I’m also hoping to construct a more complete ending to the piece. Basically my question is: how does PTSD affect people who went through the ROTC program?



David Hermanoff

I am a Sophomore from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition to the Minor in Writing, I am working towards graduating from the Honors History program. After college I want to earn a JD/MBA. My favorite hobbies are skiing and basketball.

2 thoughts to “Repurposing the ROTC”

  1. I think this is a really cool idea. I too did this project and it is great to see that you are still thinking of your experience! I think you can totally divulge more into the ways ROTC discusses PTSD and how it affects soldiers. I know there are a lot of veteran groups in Ann Arbor I think and that often soldiers attend meetings to help with PTSD so I think you have a lot of opportunity to research stuff.

    You can even see how the ROTC kids feel connected now, as they prepare to enter scary situations if that affects their bond or if things in there training work on mentally preparing them and making for this family bond.

    Cool topic idea!

  2. David, first of all, I really liked your investigative approach to this essay. I can tell that through it, you took the research into your own hands, and learned something valuable through it. Also, you have a clear question-Good Job!! If you could interview some ROTC members about PTSD, or even just the struggles they experience while in the program, it would be a fantastic source. I know you said you wanted to make it into a story, but it would also be interesting, and I think it would fit the topic well, if you made it into article form and directly quoted the ROTC members and what not. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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