All You Can Be
Posted: November 9, 2012
At the beginning of each week, Cadet Evan Bruccoleri briefs the cadre on the senior leadership’s plans for Duke Battalion’s upcoming week — this briefing is part of his leadership position in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at James Madison University.
So, it should come as no surprise that when Cadet Bruccoleri sat down with the Daily News-Record, he came prepared with notes detailing expectations and objectives for each year, ins and outs of cadet life and the mission statement of the JMU ROTC, which is “To attract, develop, inspire and commission ... competent and confident leaders of character, as an Officer in the U.S. Army,” according to the group website.
These “leaders of character” will comprise a new wave of armed forces veterans — inspired by previous generations and inspiring those that will follow.
Bruccoleri is no exception and he hopes to inspire his siblings as his uncle, a Navy vet, inspired him.
With his uncle in mind and the support of both of his parents, Bruccoleri applied for a military scholarship during his senior year of high school, he recalled, “When I found out I’d received it, I accepted right away.”
“I always looked up to my uncle as an upstanding man who I should be like. The military was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t know what it meant until the last four years.”
Through The Crucible
In order to ready the cadets, the ROTC program dedicates years to leadership development, both team and tactical, ethics, fitness and all other components necessary to sculpt well-rounded leaders.
“The first year, they instill personal discipline — I’ve always been very disciplined, but this is even more so with your appearance and how you interact with people in the military. The second and third years are geared toward tactics and how things work,” Bruccoleri explained.
As a testament to his commitment, he even opted to participate in an additional internship in platoon leadership through Cadet Troop Leadership Training.
“CTLC is the basics of what you need to know to be an effective platoon leader,” said Bruccoleri.
All students have minimum GPA requirements — few also have a leadership position, additional course work, physical training requirements and tests, field training exercises one weekend each semester and constant evaluations dictating the next eight years of life, which makes cracking under pressure seem more likely than not.
But Bruccoleri, and ROTC cadets like him, seem to be cut from a different cloth, able to juggle all of these responsibilities while maintaining social lives and school work.
“I’ll be honest, it’s gotten progressively harder over the years. At first, you don’t have that leadership role … then you’re being evaluated in the last few. Being in the ‘military mindset’ every day carries over through the rest of the week, [for instance] your future rides on your GPA and how you perform everyday,” he explained.
And, socially speaking, ROTC forges friendships arguably on a different level — the website boasts camaraderie, but it’s no exaggeration. “I’ve developed most of my good friends in ROTC,” Bruccoleri explained, “Like with any other unit, your sports team, your club, your organization, they become your best friends.”
His hard work seems to have paid off — Bruccoleri learned he will branch into the infantry, following graduation and commissioning, but first he has a few more hurdles to surpass.
“I have to go through Infantry Basic Course. If I graduate, I’ll be an officer. IBC prepares you to be a platoon leader,” he explained.
After IBC, Bruccoleri will be commissioned into the Army with the rank of Second Lieutenant.
As a contracted cadet, Bruccoleri must serve as an officer for a minimum of eight years, with four years active duty.
“I have the option to do more years of active duty and more years total,” he explained. In order to be eligible for active duty, cadets must carry a GPA of 3.0 or higher, which also constitutes 40 percent of the ranking scale.
Few 21-year-olds are in a position of competence and confidence, let alone prepared to lead others into battle, but Bruccoleri is excited at the prospect four years in the making.
It wasn’t just his uncle’s service that inspired Bruccoleri’s decision, but also “the likelihood of an active duty job, if I decide. In my opinion, the military is the best opportunity to get my foot in the door,” he explained.
“But it’s not just a job, it’s one of the most upstanding things you can do with your life,” Bruccoleri concluded.
He hopes to be stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but it’s no stretch of the imagination to think he’d be just fine where ever he may land.