Ten years ago the idea of going to war for ROTC cadets may have been a nebulous one, said Lt. Col. Mark Thomson, chair of the military science and leadership department at the University of Richmond.
But times have dramatically changed. The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 launched the country into a series of counterterrorism wars and objectives. It's the only reality many ROTC students in camp now know.
"Everybody that's come into the program, they know from the moment they come in that they're going to Afghanistan or Iraq, and they're probably going to get shot at.
"That's a really different spin from when I came in the 80s and 90s, when something might eventually have happened," Thomson said.
Students receive scholarships as cadets in the university's ROTC program and serve in the U.S. Army once they graduate.
Josiah Routhier, a junior cadet, said he remembered his mother getting a phone call from his grandparents on the morning of 9/11. "We watched TV to try to figure out what was going on," Routhier said.
Alexandra Tellez, a junior cadet, said she remembered hearing rumors about a Pentagon bombing. "My stepfather was in the Pentagon at the time," she said.
Both Tellez and Routhier said they believed that 9/11 was a major motivation to their commitments to the military.
"I definitely don't regret it. I definitely still want to serve my country, even more because of this," Routhier said.
"A lot of us have never experienced a war or any kind of big disaster," Tellez said. "Now we have something that we can sort of look back to and fight for."
For 2010 Richmond graduate, 2nd Lt. Jeremiah Hencke, 9/11 was a psychological turning point for the country. "It's a point when terrorism went from something that happened periodically and something that didn't go so well, to a serious threat that people have to be aware of."
Hencke, 23, trains in Destin, Fl., in Explosive Ordnance Disposal within the Army Ordnance Corps. He said he joined the military because he liked its discipline and values. "Those are important things not only for the military to have, but for society in general to have."
Hencke is in training until October. He said he did not know when or to where he would deploy.