The Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is hosting a benefit dinner on Feb. 9 and silent auction at the Radisson Hotel starting at 6 p.m.
Wilmot Collins, Montana’s first African American mayor-elect from Helena, will be one of the keynote speakers for the event. Collins was born, raised, and partly educated in Liberia, West Africa. A former refugee, Collins arrived in the United States in 1994. He is currently a child protection specialist with the Montana Department of Health and U.S Navy Reservist.
Sergeant Mitch Hart of the Billings Police Department will also speak during the gathering.
Amy Dixon, who studies computer science at RMC and is a part of the ROTC program, is helping organize the event. Dixon hopes to serve in the United States Army as a leader and work to help the community of Billings.
“We are essentially officers in training,” said Dixon. “We are full-time students who are either going to commission with the Army Reserves, or the National Guard. Most cadets want to go active duty as soon as they graduate.”
According to Dixon, active duty means a person works full-time as an Army officer. Active duty officers get stationed in bases all over the world.
The local ROTC program is heavily involved with the community. Doing flag ceremonies before football games, creating reading programs for local children, patterning with American Legion, and working with churches for local events are all activities the ROTC program does in Billings.
“This year we are really fortunate because most of the proceeds go to helping cadets with community activities,” said Dixon. “This year we are giving ten percent of the proceeds to Stars and Stripes, which is a wrestling program aimed at low-income kiddos in Yellowstone county.”
RMC senior, Luke Hamann, became the executive director of the local ROTC program in January of this year.
“Essentially what we are trying to do is develop army officers that are going to be responsible citizens within the community,” said Hamann. “We want them to be leaders within their respective organizations.”
According to Hamman, the local ROTC program works to develop leadership traits in individuals through diverse training activities ranging from infantry style missions to community service events. Being part of the ROTC program helps community members pursue their career and educational goals.
“You can elect to have your entire tuition paid for,” said Hamann. “Or you can elect to have all your room and board paid for. It is a four year commitment after you graduate. Typically, people decide to go longer than that.”
Cadet Corps for RMC and MSUB has 23 cadets enrolled in the program, seven from RMC. ROTC was established in Montana in 1896 at both University of Montana and Montana State University.
“If you have any interest in serving your country what is nice about the program is that you don’t have to go active duty,” said Hamman. “You can also do National Guard. National Guard is a smaller commitment. It means you are serving once a month and three weeks out of the year.”
The program began to contract Cadets from RMC in 2011. Approximately 100 second Lieutenants from RMC and MSUB have been commissioned through the program since 1983.
“You can work to get all your school paid for,” said Hamman. “To me it has a lot of intrinsic value because I’m doing something that’s worth it. It also keeps you fit.”
The local ROTC has hosted a benefit dinner every year since 2011. The organization expects over 300 people at the event. Raffle prizes include: a one night jacuzzi stay and dinner for two at the Radisson, a PSE Stinger X Stiletto bow with six arrows, and a Glock 17 Gen 5 9mm.
The event includes silent and live auctions as well as a raffle with gifts from local vendors. Proceeds will benefit the organization and the Stars and Stripes Wrestling Program.
The cost is $30 per person, or $200 for a table of 8. Raffle tickets are $20, and raffle contestants do not have to be present during the dinner.
For tickets or questions about the ROTC, call or text Amy Dixon at (406) 672-2429, or Courtney Hendrickson at (406) 591-3108.