Government Shutdown Affects ROTC Cadets

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COLUMBIA - Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) student cadets did not receive a paycheck Tuesday because of the federal government shutdown. American University's Army ROTC confirmed last week that monthly stipends were suspended.

Several cadets at the University of Missouri are worried about paying for living expenses. 

"Most cadets use this money to pay for their rent and groceries," an MU cadet officer said. "Some cadets are working overtime, 40 hours at one job and 20 hours at another, just to make ends meet because of stipends being cut." 

She said she heard rumors last week that stipends might get cut and after checking her bank account Tuesday, she found truth to that.

"I get paid $250 every two weeks as a senior. That money goes toward my gas and groceries," she said.  

Lt. Col. Rob Boone said the MU ROTC program has seen several effects from the government shutdown prior to cadets losing their stipends.

"We have government vehicles that we drive to areas like Macon or a National Guard training site," Boone said. "Because we're unable to use the vehicles at this time to transport equipment, we go down to Hinkson and students are carpooling."

High performing cadets, both physically and academically, have the option of competing in a fall competition called Ranger Challenge. Cadets compete in various obstacles with a multitude of schools. That competition is cancelled.

"It was a little frustrating because these kids work so hard and are training five days a week at five in the morning," Boone said.   

The MU ROTC recruiting and enrollment officer said stipend amounts vary based on grade level. Freshmen earn $300, sophomores earn $350, juniors earn $450 and seniors earn $500 each month.

"Every cadet, once contracted, receives a stipend," David Nelson said. "We always talk to them about planning, planning ahead and having an emergency plan for stuff like this." 

Boone said the cadre is working with the cadets to make sure they're taken care of.

"We do have some discretionary funds that we can use to help augment them," he said. "I don't have the right answer for how long we can go without the cadets being paid." 

The cadre is helping the cadets with more than just their money.

"We've drafted up letters and we're going to help them talk to their creditors and apartment complexes here in town," Boone said.

Cadets will be reimbursed after the shutdown ends.