WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 16, 2007) - President George W. Bush will host a Joint Commissioning Ceremony for 55 Reserve Officers' Training Corps Cadets at the White House May 17.

ROTC cadets from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force will represent all states, districts and territories in the first-ever presidential commissioning. The Army will add 23 commissioned officers to its ranks, joining the more than half a million men and women since 1916 who stepped up from ROTC to serve their nation as Army officers.

The Army ROTC program is a college elective in which more than 28,000 young men and women are currently enrolled. Cadets receive hands-on instruction and experience in decision making, management, leadership and discipline to give them an edge for future success in either a military or civilian career.

"I chose my college based on its academic, military and physical rigor, and ROTC was a big part of this," said Cadet Jason P. LaCerda, a Mahopac, N.Y., native, who will be commissioned by his commander-in-chief during the ceremony.

"The program teaches particular skills that develop rising military officers and future civilian leaders, as well. The capacity to not simply manage, but to lead, maintain grace under pressure and successfully accomplish a mission are the life skills not offered in the average college classroom," he said.

Like Cadet LaCerda, the majority of officers serving in today's Army got their start through the Army ROTC program. Those who make the program a part of their total college experience have the opportunity to receive generous merit-based scholarships and are also eligible to receive a tax-free stipend.

"Everyone hints that ROTC is a great program because it pays for school," said Cadet Sarah A. Starr, a Spokane, Wa., native. "But the program is so much more than a way to pay for education. ROTC is demanding, and at times, strenuous, but there is no other more constructive way to spend your time in college. I am proud to follow the path of my father, and even prouder to still call the Army my home."