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ROTC, ALLIES provide opportunities for involvement with US Armed Forces

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 08:11


Andrew Schneer / The Tufts Daily

Tufts ROTC and ALLIES provide support for students training for the Armed Forces or interested in understanding civil-military relations.

Veterans Day earlier this week was more than just a university holiday and a day off from class. Rather, Veterans Day is a time to recognize and reflect on the services and sacrifices of those who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and the Services (ALLIES) are two groups on campus that specialize respectively in training students for the Armed Forces and providing support for those who choose to get involved.

Tufts ROTC is affiliated with ROTC at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which includes Army, Air Force and Naval programs. While all three serve both Harvard and Tufts in addition to MIT, the Paul Revere Battalion — an Army unit — also includes Wellesley College, Salem State College and Endicott College, among others.

Junior Hans Ege Wenger joined Army ROTC at the start of his Tufts career out of a sense of commitment to America’s status as the proverbial land of opportunity, he said.

“I am the son of an immigrant, and I feel that my family [members] really are beneficiaries of the American dream, as imperfect as it may be,” Wenger said. “To many people throughout the world, our military is the face of America, and I think we have a duty to ensure that the soldiers on the front−line represent the best our country has to offer.”

Wenger criticized what he sees as a lack of military participation among students at schools like Tufts.

“I also feel that students from top liberal arts colleges rarely enter the military, something that I believe harms our country,” he said.

Though there are many members of ROTC on campus, Wenger believes that most students lack a detailed understanding of the group’s purpose.

“I think most people only have a very peripheral understanding of ROTC as being ‘the people in uniforms,’ without much differentiation between services,” Wenger said. “[But] I think students’ reactions to ROTC are overwhelmingly positive, and I often have curious people approach me in classes to ask questions about the program as well as the Army more generally.”

As to whether members of ROTC have a drastically different lifestyle than the normal Tufts student, Wenger said that is not the case.

“For most of the year, we still are able to have pretty normal social and academic lives,” he said. “I’m still able to do club sports, attend lectures on campus and go out with my friends.”

One of ROTC’s major commitments is the early morning call time for Physical Training (PT) three times a week, which can take its toll, according to Wenger.

Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences James Glaser, who serves as the liaison for ROTC at Tufts, sees inherent value in ROTC’s presence on campus.

“I believe strongly in a diverse student body. The education we provide is enhanced by students with different perspectives and different experiences,” he said. “The ROTC students also are providing extraordinary service to our country and thus engage in active citizenship in a way that the university supports.”

Glaser said that he sees respect for ROTC students on campus. Some of the hostility that existed toward the military has faded since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, he added.

For some students, the benefits of participating in ROTC are vast, although the commitment is not for everyone, according to Glaser.

“For a select few, it’s a great option,” he said. “There is significant opportunity in the military and the ROTC programs offer excellent training as well as resources that make a college education possible.”

Indeed, one of the benefits of ROTC is that participants may not have to worry about a post−graduation career path as many of their peers would. ROTC cadets are required to do a minimum of four years active duty commitment. Wenger already has a fairly clear idea where he is headed in the years after graduation.

“I will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, and most likely [the] Military Police [branch]. I hope to get assigned to a unit that assists in counterinsurgency and stability operations, which will hopefully lead me into Army−Civil Affairs,” he said.

Whereas student cadets in ROTC are preparing for active duty in the Armed Forces, ALLIES intends to bridge the gap between students involved in the military and other members of the Tufts community.

Junior Anna Patten is the co−chair of ALLIES and originally decided to get involved during her freshman year.

“The ALLIES program stuck out most to me because I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the military, which plays an important role in international relations, which I study,” she said.

ALLIES currently holds weekly meetings to discuss topics related to civil military issues, such as drones, sexual assault in the military and post−traumatic stress disorder.

According to Patten, international relations majors tend to be more involved, but students of all majors and interests should be aware of the topics ALLIES addresses.

“Any field of study relates to civil−military issues. We have members who are majoring in child development, anthropology, etc.,” Patten said. “In some instances, the military can be seen as a microcosm of greater American society.”

That said, Wenger sees himself and other ROTC participants as fully integrated into the Tufts community.

“At the end of the day, even if we’re in uniform for a class, we’re just regular students, and that’s the level most people interact with us on,” he said.

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