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When you lose a child you lose the future the sages teach us. The Grozelle family have fought hard to find out the how/why their twenty-one year old son died. Joe was an exemplary cadet officer at Royal Military College in Kingston.

You have to have great marks in high school, be a student leader and enjoy athletics to be selected to attend R M C. To help glean the numbers of those who are initially selected you have to endure/succeed in an eight weeks of Initial Assessment Period at St Jean Quebec before being allowed to proceed to Royal Military College.

Joe Grozelle must have been one heck of a young man because he made the grade to attend R M C.

There are the good and bad aspects of attending a military school. The atmosphere is structured 24/7; it’s all about making one an officer. You are attached to a wing with other cadets and you’re success or failure reflects on your fellow students.

Sports/military drill and spit and polish regime are mandatory. There is far too much academic/military work to do in a twenty-four hour day; sleeping in class by the students is the norm.

The nine hundred undergraduate cadets have a great pupil teacher ratio of approximately thirty students to each teacher.

The cost to the Canadian tax payer for one to attend R M C is expensive. $10,000 per year in tuition, $500.00 per month for room and board. The cadets receive $1,387 gross salary per month. Do the math and the total accrues to over $30,000 per year.

If you are unhappy with the program after your first year you can walk away with no debts payable to the college.

However, if you are Joe Grozelle after your third year you would owe $90,000 if you quit. He had voiced concern of ‘having to serve the five year obligatory military commitment service to his country’.

His fellow cadet girlfriend, Melissa Haggart, was frustrated when she said: “Then just leave, if you are not happy with your situation, then change it.”

When one makes the difficult decision that R M C is not a good fit you just don’t leave; there are consequences. You are designated as a V. W. (Volunteer Withdrawal) which means that you have decided on opting to drop out of school and the military. The cadet is asked to leave their room/friends and assigned to a holding area until he/she leaves the college. You are obligate to pay back all of the cost of your education.

I don’t know if the Grozelle family will ever find closure? Was Joe caught between a rock and a hard place with no place to go?

Over my years of counseling youth I have worked with the Volunteer Withdrawal Royal Military’s former students. They felt like failures. It was oh so hard for them to turn their backs on their commitment to their education, career, country and loved ones and quietly walk away.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com