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Posted: 5/8/2002 9:27:00 AM EDT
I have a situation that is causing some stress in the Lawrence family and I am looking for some answers or insight on this issue. I have a nephew, who entered the AFA in the summer of 2000. He later quit the academy in December of 2001. Between the Summer of 2000 and Thankgiving 2001, he had nothing but positive comments about his experiences and the academy. When Christmas 2001 came around he quietly informed only a few members of the family that he had quit. His only statement was that "it was too much politics." (An interesting statement to make since he got his slot by political appointment.) Anyway, he will not provide any additional comment on why he quit. Since December 2001, he has not returned to school or sought employment. Everytime I see him or his father, they make comments about the how the students are leaving the academy in droves. But they will not state or elaborate on why the students are leaving. Can anybody provide any insight into this matter? I, along with other members of the family, find it very odd that after 18 months he quits. Is there something terrible going on at the academy that America should know about? Thanks,
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 9:36:47 AM EDT
Ehh, it's the Air Force, what do you expect?? Naval Academy all the way baby!!!! Lol I'm sorry bout that; sorry to hear about your nephew. Do you think they are really leaving "in droves?" Is there any way you could find data on this from the AF? How many ppl are still in his class as compared to other years? If he isn't talking, it sounds suspiciously like there might not be that great a reason. It probably just wasn't for him, which is completely 100% OK. But who knows, keep asking him!!
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 9:42:48 AM EDT
A guy I used to work with last year told me there was a HUGE drug scandal at AFA, ecstasy and pot, at least one guy dealing, and LOTS of cadets participating at an off campus party. He had some arrangement with DOD, and there were so many cadets involved he almost got posted there to represent cadetsin UCMJ proceedings. As a graduate of The Citadel, I can state unequivocally that the first year is the worst, by far, then later years get progressivly easier, from a non academic standpoint. That said, the academics at AFA are supposed to be murder, and we had guys quitting for no apparent reason well after they completed the first year, not in droves, though. Sounds like it could be drugs?
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 9:44:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/8/2002 12:00:17 PM EDT by Noname]
Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not trying to be a smartass, but have you given any thought to "Don't ask---Don't tell..." and/or some people just can't hack it...
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 10:06:29 AM EDT
First of all, any scandal at the AFA would get plenty of media attention. Don't worry about that. "Politics" sounds like his way of saying he did something to get kicked out and is embarrassed to talk about it. Military academies put a huge amount of stress on the cadets. It comes out in unexpected ways from seemingly normal people. You should reassure him that anything that happened there doesn't matter and he should get on with real life.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 10:08:25 AM EDT
Could be lotsa things. I will echo the sentiments of a few other's here and say that it might have just been too hard, or he plain didn't like it. I graduated from West Point in 1998, and between my first day and graduation saw lots of people leave for a lot of different reasons - one thing they all had in common was they didn't usually like to talk about it. Most of the kids that go there have breezed through high school, scored really high on tests, been student leaders, athletes....in short, overachievers who have never failed at anything. Once these fair haired children (not unlike me 5 years ago) arrive at the military academy, they are immediately put in an adversarial situation with 3000 upperclassmen, given a ton of really difficult homework, military duties, mandatory athletics, physical fitness tests...which gives our hero's a choice: kill themselves and try to do everything perfect, do some things perfect and blow - off other stuff, or half-ass everything and accept a less than perfect grade every now and then. This is a bitter pill to swallow for an 18 year old who has always been the smartest, fastest, most favorite of everyone he's met up till then. I doubt very much that students are leaving the AFA in droves - I heard some rumblings about a drug scandal, but when things like that come up they are usually handled pretty swiftly (and harshly) and then quickly forgotten when some cadet runs across the central area naked throwing MRE bombs at people during finals week. Anyway, in summary after much e-rambling: lots of kids leave the first year, most of them feel like they have let their families down by deciding that the military wasn't for them...imagine how you would feel when your first real failure in life is dropping out of a "prestigous" university. I would encourage him to pick himself up and move on. If he didn't like the academy, he damn sure won't like the military - I'm not too crazy about it right now either, to be honest, so he may be saving himself 5-6 years of post-graudate heartache. Hope these ramblings of a cynical Cavalryman help some. Beat Navy, Load Sabot--- Tanker
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 10:13:28 AM EDT
Respectfully, No_Serfing, you are wrong about scandals being big news. The Naval Academy had many problems in the 80s and 90s involving female/male cadet relations, one involving a video camera and almost every male cadet on the floor, but only one female cadet. Big news? Most people never heard of it. These places are controlled for various reasons, one side effect is that scandals generally do not generate much news due to restricted access. There WAS a huge drug problem at the time in question, involving many cadets, some of whom are now serving time.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 10:39:47 AM EDT
M1tanker pretty much hit it on the head. I went to USAFA, although quite a few years ago, but it sounds like things haven't changed too much in 20 years. Its not alot of fun the first couple of years and to tell you the truth, I hated every minute of all four. It was the happiest day of my life when I drove out the gate for the last time. I haven't been back since. But I wanted to fly and that was my only way to do that so I sucked it up. Lots of guys are there for the wrong reasons. If you don't want to really be there you won't make it for any one of a number of reasons. I don't care how good of a student you may have been in high school, you will be busting your a** at the Academy.As one form of pressure lets off another kicks in. As overachievers, nobody wants to admit defeat. Besides that there's alot of guilt involved. You took some other guys slot that really wanted to be there, etc. etc. "Politics" may just be his way of describing military life. Kissing a** is pretty much what gets you ahead in the Air Force, as opposed to doing your best and the Academy is no different. That was one of the main reasons I got out after doing my time.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 10:46:41 AM EDT
Respectfully CITADELGRAD87, No, I am not wrong. The question was "Is there something terrible going on at the academy that America should know about?". Don't try to argue that none of the 4000 cadets would speak out if there was something the nation needed to know about. College kids having sex only makes national news on a slow day. If the cadets were doing something illegal and got appropriate punishment, that's not something that is going to make it on the major networks. If that happened and some good kid got kicked out because of "politics", that would be important and we'd be hearing a lot about it. We sure found out about "rape practice". I bet if you read the Colorado Springs Gazette, you'd find out about most of the scandals at USAFA.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 11:19:03 AM EDT
Thanks for the input. I'll tell you the other half now. He has said that he is now going to go to a regular college and join USAF ROTC and then become a fighter pilot. There's at least one problem with this plan. The most significant issue is that he is planning to go to a branch of a state college that does not have a ROTC program.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 11:52:35 AM EDT
No_Serfing If you are saying there was no drug scandal at the time in question, you are wrong. http://detnews.com/2002/nation/0203/24/nation-447447.htm http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/032302/new_0323020011.shtml If you mean that there is no unspeakable evil which is forcing cadets to leave in droves, you are correct.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 12:52:50 PM EDT
Leonard, I'm an AFROTC cadet, going into my 4th and final year. It is possible to be enrolled at one college, but take ROTC at another. For instance, I had a friend at CalTech who took ROTC at USC. We have cadets in my detachment who go to the CC across town and enroll at the university during their 3rd and 4th years. I wish your son luck - I applied to the Academy, but they turned me down (I have bad eyes; no way in heck I am going to be a fighter pilot). Am I ever glad that they did :) Again, I am not at the Academy, but I'd imagine that scandals don't often make the papers. There have been quite a few 'mini-scandals' and more than quite a few beer bashes involving underage cadets among some of the cadets at my university. It doesn't even make the school paper, let alone the local news.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 1:17:35 PM EDT
I am also in AFROTC and will commission in Dec. & I know a couple of kids that have left the Academy. Here are some general reasons why people have left why some choose ROTC: 1. It is a character change, when go through officer's school or field training its for a short period time but the USAFA is 4 years. 2. The Acad. does give you the same college experience; wheither it is dorm life or being on your own. 3. I know a couple of guys that could have gone but it is just up to the person and they wanted to have a normal 4yrs of college. Yes there was ecstasy bust but these kids know what their getting into when sign your name they go over every line. In the end it just may not have been for him I know the Acad. would not have been for me.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 2:01:23 PM EDT
I didn't think that sort of stuff would happen at any military academy. Doesn't anybody just get drunk and fight anymore? Thanks again for your input. LL Out.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 2:07:14 PM EDT
For a look on what the cadets at AF academy are thinking check out: [url]www.edodo.com[/url] Viper Out
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 9:37:59 AM EDT
You'd be amazed at some of the stuff that went on at that place. Even 20 years ago. The amount of stress put on the Cadets brings out the best as well as the worst in people. Most of it gets out into the press but not everything. Steelviper- Thanks for the website. How did you find out about that?
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 10:26:21 AM EDT
As M1Tanker said....the first year is a real adjustment for many cadets. Academics, physical challenges, homework, military duties, etc are always there. Freshmen cadets are under tremendous pressure...appointment to academy (you are there...some kid did not get in or my dad and grandad went here, etc.) Here at Texas A&M we have approx 2,800 cadets in "the corp" on a campus of 44,000 students. The "fish year" is tough and challenging for the kids right out of high school. And they are learning traditions and the right of passage started in 1876. Some do not make it...they can't hack the disipline, academics, or they "party-to-hardy!" We all remember classmates our freshmen year who bilged out. For others it builds teamwork, tradition, and all the honored values you wish a cadet/officer to have, and they get a useful education also. It is not for everyone.... and after graduation....compare the retention rates of graduates of the service academies vs. the top ROTC programs (VMI Citadel, Texas A&M, etc.) The four year schools are kicking butt. Many academy grads bail after their first hitch. They want to fly jets for uncle sam....do for a while, get tired of the system, and then fly for Delta or American, etc. Me...I drove ships, hauling the beans, bullets, and fuel. Been ashore for sometime...have several classmates still sailing, mostly for the Military Sealift Command. Important the young man, get focused and get on with his life.
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 12:40:09 PM EDT
Remember that just because somebody leaves a service academy doesn't mean that they "couldn't hack it." A person might be doing great in academic, military , and physical performance but just not like the place/lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that. Of course, alot of ppl do leave cause they can't hack it, but my point is: not all.
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 1:04:49 PM EDT
I've known guys who attended all 4 academies, and all sound like unbelievably hard programs. The caliber of person that it'd take to succeed in that environment is considerable. The Naval Academy had a really serious crisis in the mid 90's with felony crimes like car thief rings, dope dealing, cheating, sexual harrassment and homosexual stuff. Their discipline code called for snitches to be punished as well the actual transgressors, so there wasn't a lot of incentive for midshipmen to come forward and report problems.
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 1:07:12 PM EDT
There is nothing in the Honor Concept of the Brigade of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy that I can think of that would make a snitch get in trouble also... if anything, just the opposite is true.
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 2:48:05 PM EDT
Yeah, I think you have it backwards. If you don't rat on your buddies, you get thrown out too. Its the toleration part of the Honor code. "I will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate anyone amongst us that does".
Link Posted: 5/9/2002 2:52:50 PM EDT
If the kid really does want to fly though it is too bad he didn't stick it out at the Academy. It was probably his best chance of getting a pilot training slot. You might mention the Air National Guard to him. That's another great deal if he still wants to fly. They'll pay for college also and you avoid some of the hassles of Active Duty Air Force life.
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