It’s Just Not Right!

So what is 63 years of loyal service producing more than 1,600 commissioned officers, including a 4-star general, two 3-stars, two 2-stars, a brigadier general, and a rear admiral worth in today’s world? Apparently, not much. That’s certainly the message I received loud and clear a couple of days ago with a cold, matter-of-fact call from the U.S. Army Cadet Command informing me of the Army’s decision to close the Tennessee Tech ROTC Battalion after more than 60 years.

As president of a state university, I am no stranger to the reality that leaders have to frequently make tough decisions.  However, generally the tougher the decision, the more important the process is by which the decision is made.  In this case, I completely disagree with the conclusion drawn behind closed doors, but I am even more justifiably angry and saddened by the process itself.  With more than 60 years of commitment to producing many of the U.S. military’s best leaders, Tennessee Tech has earned the respect and common courtesy of due process.  We were not consulted or notified prior to or during this review, nor were we given any opportunity to make any programmatic adjustments to better meet new Army expectations.  In fact, every indication has been that our unit was meeting the Army’s mission and in good standing with the Cadet Command.

Even now, I am unaware of the details of the criteria used to support the decision.  I assume it ultimately came down to dollars and numbers of cadets.  Unfortunately, quality is left out of that calculation.  What has always made the U.S. military so effective are the values embodied in the hearts and souls of individual soldiers.

The soldiers we produce choose careers that make the world a better place; they are problem solvers and protectors. Tennessee Tech produces the largest concentration of engineering, science and health care graduates in the region.  (TTU produces 40% of the engineers in Tennessee annually.) These are all disciplines desperately needed in today’s military.  But more importantly, TTU graduates embody the same values that make our military great.

We refuse to accept this situation without a fight.  We are aggressively working with our congressional delegation to reverse this unfortunate decision.  If you have any thoughts or just want to voice your support, please send your comments to savetturotc@tntech.edu.  It’s a bad decision for the country and for TTU, but most of all, It’s Just Not Right!

Go Eagles!

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19 comments on “It’s Just Not Right!
  1. Christina Hatley says:

    From the time young Kylle Anderson could walk and talk we knew he was destined to be in the military.
    All four years of High School Anderson was highly involved in the JRTOC program. He won several awards and also received the TTU ROTC Dorm Scholarship.
    In December 2012, Anderson a then senior at Cookeville High School and JROTC Battalion Commander joined the Army National Guard, and as 2013 graduate of Cookeville High School, left for Basic Training in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in May.
    PFC Kylle Lee Anderson graduated from U.S. Army Basic Training in August having received Sharpshooter designation in weapons and hand grenades. He trained with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery Combat Unit with the 434th Field Artillery Brigade.
    After graduation, he stayed at Ft. Sill for an additional six weeks for advanced individual training as a Fire Support Specialist/Forward Observer for the Tennessee Army National Guard stationed with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Cookeville, TN.
    Upon his return Cookeville, Anderson had planned on attending the ROTC Program at Tennessee Tech for the Spring 2014 semester and pursue a degree in secondary education with a concentration in history and graduated as a commissioned officer.
    Anderson returned from AIT School on Friday, September 27th and in less than a week all he has worked for and planned has come to a standstill. He just learned that the government has scheduled the closure of 13 ROTC programs nationwide and the TTU Golden Eagle Battalion is one of those. He is now trying to scramble to find out what he needs to do; sending out applications for acceptance from other colleges within the state that offers the Army ROTC program, assessing the commuting time to Cookeville so he can fulfill his required duties with the 278th, and finding the money to pay for dorms.
    Losing the ROTC program is going to affect so many people. Let’s do all we can to help save this program!
    Sincerely,
    Christina Hatley
    Mother of PFC Kylle Anderson

  2. LTC(R) Jon Brazelton says:

    It’s a shame that the Army is choosing quantity over quality. I credit my military training and experiences in getting me to where I am today, and it’s a shame that future TTU students will not get that opportunity. Here’s hoping President Oldham can instill some sanity into Cadet Command to get them to reconsider their selection.

    Jon P. Brazelton
    Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), US Army
    TTU Class of 1993

  3. Jennifer McDonald Lovett says:

    I recently deployed to Afghanistan, and I ran into my TTU ROTC Ranger Commander, now Lt. Col. Les Barnett in the dining facility. Such a small world! I’ll never forget him as the cadet leader who helped me run my fastest mile ever at 6:38. I hated running and he explained Operations Orders to me for the entire 3-mile run! What a fantastic Army officer, made possible by the TTU ROTC program.

  4. William and Janet Richards Parents of Twin sons PFC Nicholas and Brandon Richards says:

    We have twin sons PFC Nicholas and Brandon Richards that graduated from Basic Training at Fort Sill, OK in August of 2012 and graduated from AIT at Fort Lee, VA in August of 2013. They are in their second year at Tennessee Tech University and were just about to contract with the ROTC program. We are very disappointed that the program was closed. Our sons are already settled into school and do not want to change schools. We think it is very unfair to all of the cadets who have worked so hard to get this far. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help get this program reinstated.

  5. Tom Templeton says:

    As a 32 year veteran, member of the TTU and local community, I am proud of this school president as he stands strong on what he believes to make TTU and the country strong. I proudly join the fight.

    Tom Templeton

  6. Karen Carr says:

    I have a nephew that was excited about the possibility of attending TTU, getting an engineering degree and going into the military. He will now have to look at going to another college to find both engineering and ROTC. I am very disappointed this opportunity has been taken away from him.

  7. Rob Blackburn says:

    I am in shock and awe over what I just read. The leaders produced by the Golden Eagle Battalion may not match the numbers produced by other institutions but most certainly match up in quality and impact. I remember distinctly during the “draw-down” years in the late 80’s when we were fighting to keep the doors open then, we were also receiving candid briefings from THE commander planned then took down a corrupt regime in Panama. General Steiner, a TTU graduate. Or there was the address we heard from another alumnus who led ALL strategic communications for the US forces in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. General Rodgers, was the only general office who was given permission to travel into and out of the theater as much as he liked by General Schwarzkopf because of his contributions to the war. During my time in the battalion I was privileged to learn alongside future Special Operations team leaders, Old Guard and Ranger Battalion leaders, Calvary commanders, and countless other men and woman who helped shape me into the man, leader, and professional I am today. It will indeed be a shame if the US Army I served allows such a fine institution be shut down.

  8. Carl Beilstein says:

    I came into this program as an MS1 two months ago hoping to gain the knowledge and experience to become an officer and soldier to serve our country. Now, seeing that this program will shut down before I can even become an MS2, I will also lose a significant opportunity to expand my knowledge and lose my chance to become an officer to protect my homeland. I will join the fight to stop the termination of TTU ROTC.

  9. Thomas Chase says:

    It is clear that this is only about the money the campus is losing. The proud record is not one of success after 63 years only 1600 soldiers graduated. I would like to see at least 1600 graduating every year. To me this program appears to be a complete failure having only produced 6 generals of varied rank in 63 years. Imagine saying the engineering program only produced 6 engineers that operated their own firm in 63 years. I would assume the engineering program was garbage. Stop crying over the cutting of an unsuccessful program. I am however very annoyed that the scholarships were cut midterm. TTU needs to be focused on the future not the past.

  10. Diane Glasgow says:

    You can still make a difference for our country! Join Peace Corps or Americorps/Vista!
    My dad served during World War 2 in the Army Air Force as a flight mechanic. He and my mom supported my decision to become a Peace Corps volunteer for 2 years in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
    I had a dream job with the best language, cross-cultural, and skills training provided by our government! Some of my group had been soldiers in Vietnam and decided to join Peace Corps afterward to help that developing country!
    Peace Corps and Americorps/Vista volunteers can make Americans very proud!

  11. Hector Black says:

    Aren’t there other ways to serve our country aside from military service? We spend more on our military than all the other nations in the world combined. Yes, we are feared around the world. The military industrial complex that Pres. Eisenhower warned us about has taken over a much larger part of our economy than it ever had in his day. Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech—”Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. 
”
    We left Iraq a shambles. Can you imagine living with a massacre of 30 to 60 people a day? Afghanistan looks as bad.
    If we spent half of what we spend on the military, if we spent just half promoting peace and reconciliation, helping to bring clean water to the millions who have none, helping farmers to grow and market their produce, building up instead of blowing up, would that be so dangerous?

  12. 2LT Rochelle Lawson says:

    TTU ROTC you are in my prayers.

  13. Charlie Osburn says:

    While some may be disappointed at the closing of the TTU ROTC, I believe those who are determined to be in the military will find a way. This may weed out all but the most dedicated people who want to become officers. In a better world we would not have to fill young people with minds with war generation after generation. Perhaps the money saved by these closings could be used to care for the soldiers who have gone before and suffered the true cost war. Veteran suicide rates of one per hour every day, 26,000 rapes in 2012 alone shows the military could make better use of the money. As a former Marine I understand the desire to serve, however there are many ways to serve our country that are patriotic and productive.

  14. Joey King says:

    I was a TTU ROTC cadet from 1980-84. I served as Ranger Commander in 1984 and was the #2 cadet in my class. After graduation, I attended US Army Ranger school and served with the 82nd Airborne Division and the paratrooper unit in Vicenza Italy.

    That being said, I have to agree with Hector, Diane, and Charlie, there are more productive uses of our tax dollars than teaching our young college graduates to kill. The Peace Corps is the way to go. Maybe we can get the Army down to the size where West Point and OCS meet our defense needs.

  15. Emily Graber says:

    This is such sad news. I have seen many, many officers in my time as an HR Officer in the Army. I will tell you that the consistent quality of leaders that TTU ROTC has commissioned into the Army is very rare of a single program. Even though this program is small in size, there has always been a push to put only those leaders that truly lead from the front and are solid leaders. I have ran across alumni throughout the years and instantly our conversation goes to how much a quality program we were part of which speaks volumes for the program. Sad that quantity and other reasons are leading to this decision by the Army as quality is of utmost importance in leaders…especially in the military (and quality is MUCH needed in today’s force). Proud to help in any way!

  16. KrisL says:

    Whether its about the money or not is not the point here. It takes money to accomplish most things in this day and age- people need to wake up and realize that is just how the world works now. What this is about is giving our young people the same opportunity to pursue their hopes and dreams that you who have “been there and done that” were able to pursue. Whether you agree with it or not, you were given the opportunity. They deserve the same. Its not up to you to tell them what is best- let them follow their own dreams. They deserve a choice just like you received, without judgment. Everyone has their own path in life and it is not up to anyone else what that path is. I am grateful that TTU has a President willing to stand up for that and fight for our youth to have the ability to make their own choices and follow their own dreams.

  17. LTC James Pippin Jr says:

    As a retiree that came through Tech ROTC I say we fight to retain our ROTC Program. Dr. Oldham, please let our alumni know what we can do to help! As you mention in your article, there are thousands of us out here and the Cadet Command just might rethink their short sighted position if we get organized to let them know what we the Alumni think of their decision!

  18. Ron Weaks says:

    I had no idea what I wanted to do when I became a college student at Tennessee Tech in 1964 (pre-”University”). I changed majors three times. One thing during that era that was a guiding influence, however, was ROTC. It was mandatory for all capable male students at that time. I did not know what to make of that type of discipline (includes SELF-discipline) but took to it rather quickly. I was even on the “Rebel Rifles Drill Team” and won honors for Tech at individual competition in Georgia.

    These were the early years of the Viet Nam conflict (“war”) and people in uniform were not popular with the American public, but we were respected and treated well at Tech. I left Tech after 3 years and joined the Army as an enlisted soldier (Special Forces), where I did OK. I returned to Tech 3 years, later. I reentered ROTC, again competing for Tech at U.S. Army Ranger School, where I finished as Distinguished Honor Graduate, then completing my Bachelor’s degree in Business, and earning a commission as a second lieutenant. I subsequently earned a graduate degree in business at a not-to-be-named institution.

    I then served on active duty for the next 18 years in Special Forces, Rangers, Military Intelligence, and as helicopter and multi-engine aircraft pilot, with a few other skills also not to be named. All of this was possible due to the moral support, sense of honor, and patriotism opportunities provided by Tennessee Tech through the ROTC program.

    Following retirement from the Army, today, I am a successful Regional Healthcare Executive and have served in many volunteer capacities as Board Member/President or just ordinary community volunteer for such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Special Olympics, and others, as well has having been elected to public office.

    I began my adult life as an ordinary college student with little sense of direction, and more than a touch of “wild” in me, until I found my path, thanks to the ROTC program at Tennessee Tech.

  19. Warren LaFever says:

    Why don’t they look into getting a Marine Corps ROTC program?

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