Last Updated: June 13th, 2024By

Cadet Harmon Steen, 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, is a member of the Iowa National Guard and a student at Iowa State University, has found renewed motivation and purpose through his participation in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program. This course tests the physical and mental abilities of cadets.

Enlisted in 2019, Steen has a background that includes a deployment to Kuwait and involvement in the Afghanistan retrograde operation. Despite his extensive military experience, Steen admits that his enthusiasm waned over time.

“After playing soldier for a couple of years, the routine got a little old,” Steen said. “It wasn’t until I joined ROTC and met my cadre that my passion was reignited. The friendly competition and introduction of new people brought back the fire I had during basic training.”

Steen expressed deep gratitude to the cadre and instructors who have played a pivotal role in his transformation. “Thank you to the cadre and instructors who teach us every day and mold us into the next generation of leaders,” he said. “I haven’t felt this motivated since basic training. My goal of becoming a leader that soldiers, both junior and senior, can look up to is alive and well, and I have my cadre to thank for that.”

One key figure in Steen’s resurgence is Sgt. 1st Class Chad Salcido, an instructor at Iowa State University’s Army ROTC. “Sgt. 1st Class Salcido is my inspiration,” Steen said. “He believes in me and my classmates, and works hard every day to make us better than we were the day before. He met me as a slacker but has played a major part in molding me into a motivated soldier.”

Steen’s commitment to leadership is evident in his roles as platoon leader and squad leader. He aspires to become a platoon sergeant, a goal that he pursues with vigor. “CST has been fun, and my squad members have been keeping me motivated,” Steen said. “Stay motivated; if you lose your motivation, use the connections you make here at CST to bring it back. Rely on your teammates and build each other up.”

Steen’s journey is supported by fellow cadets and leadership at CST. Capt. Trevarious Taylor, Assistant Professor of Military Science at West Virginia University, praised Steen’s initiative and leadership. “Cadet Steen is one of our high-speed soldiers, always motivated, and has already served as a platoon leader,” Taylor said. “During land navigation, he planned refresher training for the platoon. He wanted to help develop his fellow cadets.”

Cadet RaeVon Henderson, 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, echoed this sentiment. “Cadet Steen has already taken on different forms of leadership since he’s been here,” Henderson said. “He keeps us motivated and is able to adapt to different scenarios. He has clear communication and is very good at keeping us on task. He’s always looking for something to do and is the definition of a leader.”

Steen’s experience at CST has not only rekindled his motivation but also enhanced his skills and strategies. “I’ve learned a lot from my school’s field training exercises and used the opportunity to learn different skills and strategies from other cadets from different schools,” he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Steen offered advice to others facing similar struggles. “Keep your head up. After a couple of weeks, we already feel like family,” he said. “It’s because of the support and great leadership skills of people like Sgt. 1st Class Salcido that I can tell myself I will be a great leader and I will get through CST.”

As he continues his training at Fort Knox, Steen remains committed to his goal of becoming a leader who inspires and supports his fellow soldiers. His journey is a testament to the transformative power of mentorship and the enduring bonds formed through shared challenges.

About the Author: Victor Mejia-Jeronimo