ROTC Snow Angels lend helping hand to disabled veterans

When the snow begins flying and blizzard-like winds sweep across campus, many NDSU students hunker down in residence halls and apartments. For a group of Army ROTC cadets, it’s the signal to begin mobilizing snow removal teams.

For the last two winters, teams of NDSU Army ROTC cadets have been helping Fargo-Moorhead military veterans clear snow from sidewalks and driveways following significant snow events. The program, called Snow Angels, provides a needed service to veterans while teaching leadership lessons to cadets.

Cadet Daniel Grages is leading this year’s efforts. The senior from Montevideo, Minn., who is majoring in electrical engineering, joined the Army ROTC his freshman year. He said he attended NDSU primarily on the strength of its engineering program, with which he plans to pursue a career in the growing field of biomedical engineering.

Grages said the Snow Angels focus on serving disabled veterans who otherwise would have great difficulty removing snow. “It’s positive for them and enriching for us,” Grages said. “It’s always a fun experience when veterans come out and talk with us.”

Following a large snowfall, teams of four or five cadets are dispatched to several homes in Fargo and Moorhead. Team leaders coordinate efforts on both sides of the Red River.

Grages said the experience offers leadership lessons for those coordinating the teams. It’s essentially a lesson in mobilizing a team and carrying out a mission. He said the work is excellent training for a month-long Leadership Development and Assessment Course held each summer in Fort Lewis, Wash. The event pits ROTC cadets from around the country against each other in a series of training events. It’s considered the centerpiece of the ROTC program and is typically attended by cadets between their junior and senior years of college.

“It’s good to put MS3s, or those in the third year of the program, in charge,” Grages said. “They are learning the roles of becoming an Army officer. When I was an MS1 and MS2, it was some of the first introductions into Army operations and Army life.”

Lt. Col. Ted M. Preister, professor of military science, said the project also focuses on service. “Selfless service is one of the seven core Army values that we strive to foster in our cadets as they prepare to become Army officers,” he said.

The program is just one of several community outreach projects. Last year, Army ROTC cadets helped build a new fence surrounding the Red River Zoo.

“It’s about doing the right thing,” Grages said. “It’s about being leaders in the community and showing cadets how to do that.”

For more information about the NDSU Army ROTC program, visit www.ndsu.edu/armyrotc.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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