For Cadet Bryan Kunz, a proud day awaits

Committing four years after graduating college to the United States Army is a daunting decision for anyone to make. At age 18, men and women are allowed to enlist without their parents’ permission into the armed forces, but some choose to become officers through different means.

Norwich University and the ROTC departments within the school are a means to grant young men and women a commission as a junior officer. For four years, students train and study to become the less than one percent who serve as officers in the United States military.

Bryan Kunz is one of those individuals. “I always wanted to be in the military and I came from a family of all enlisted people” said Kunz, 22, a studies of war and peace major from Pennsville, N.J. Kunz, like many others in his class, is preparing to embark on a journey of a lifetime after earning his commission.

Having a contract with a military branch is an honor, though the individual receiving that contract has not earned it by chance. Not all contracted cadets at Norwich are four-year scholarship recipients, or scholarship cadets at all. The road to a commission can be harsh and unforgiving, but worth it in the end, according to Kunz.

Coming from an enlisted family background, Kunz was eager to enlist and join the military at an early age. “Right around high school I was looking at wanting to join the military and my family just pushed me to seek the officer route because they knew the benefits were better,” Kunz said. “So I started looking at military schools and I got accepted here and that’s where I ended up.”

Kunz enrolled with the Army ROTC department, hoping to earn a contract or scholarship early in his college career. Some students earn a four-year scholarship and contract before entering college to the service they wish. Unfortunately for Kunz, it was not that easy.

In order to earn a contract with the Army, he had to pass a physical fitness test, height and weight regulation test, medical examination, security clearances, background checks, and keep his grades up. Even passing all of these tasks did not guarantee Kunz a contract, because he was competing against multiple people for a contract as well.

But he succeeded.

“I swore in February of my sophomore year,” he said. Being granted a contract meant that he would now serve four years in the active duty Army after graduation and commission as a 2nd Lt.

Gaining a contract with the military does not necessarily make the college experience any easier. Contracted students may not have scholarships, meaning they need to pay their way through school. Kunz faced serious financial issues in his second semester junior year and was unsure whether he would be able to return to school and keep his contract.

“I had a bunch of issues with financial aid and had a lot of issues and didn’t know if I was gonna be able to keep my contract or not, but that ended up working itself out,” he said.

Unlike most of his classmates who are contracted, Kunz will not commission this May, but instead earn his commission after his completion of LDAC (Leadership Development and Assessment Course) in Fort Knox, Kentucky. He hopes to branch into field artillery upon commissioning.

“I ended up not going to LDAC for some academic reasons. I had to re-do my MSIII (military science three) year while taking the MSIV class, but it’s not all a loss,” he said. “I look at it as most people who go to college don’t graduate in four years, so everybody’s got to take their own road to get to where they want to be at the end. I didn’t go to LDAC last year, I’m going this summer so it’s not that big of a deal. I’m kind of one step ahead of everyone now, that’s the way I look at it.”

Looking forward to his commission, Kunz is both nervous and eager to command troops. “I don’t feel like I’m a very mature individual and I’m going to be in charge of people who have been in the army for 10 years or more, “he said. “I’m going to come in with not that much experience, but coming out of here and knowing what I’ve been taught by the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) here, as well as the officers, I’m going to go in there with a good base knowledge of everything.”

The choice to become an officer in the Army is a decision that has to be made at a young age, but it should be made understanding all it entails. Kunz warns that in order to make the proper choice, one must have all of the information, and be absolutely sure of the choice made.

“Looking back at it now, I think I definitely made the right choice. I’ve always second-guessed myself here and there, like ‘oh man I should’ve enlisted’ or ‘man, this isn’t what I want to do,’ but I look at it now and it’s like you kind of put yourself in a position where you’re not exactly going to be the guy kicking in the door or working with your hands, but you’re going to have an influence on a lot of people,” Kunz said.

For those like Kunz, commissioning is something to be proud of. “You’re going to get to do something a lot of people don’t get to do, you obviously have good benefits but I think being in charge of people and supervising people is something that isn’t handed out that easily, so when you get to do it you should appreciate it. You’re a deserving individual or at least you should be if you’re put into a position of power like that.”

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