Concordia ROTC makes call for help

Published 11:02pm Friday, October 18, 2013

Some Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets at Concordia College are getting second-hand uniforms because of a budget problem.

Many ROTC cadets do not have uniforms and those that do are being forced to wear hand-me-downs, according to Annette Williams, assistant professor of military science at Concordia College.

Williams talked extensively about the problems her students face at Thursday’s Selma City Council meeting and asked for the city council to donate $57,600 to the ROTC program to help purchase uniforms.

Concordia College, and Judson College in Marion, fall under the jurisdiction of Marion Military Institute, according to Cadet Command public information officer Mike Johnson. As a result, Marion Military Institute provides training to nearby schools — called affiliate schools. He said affiliate schools aren’t rare, but Concordia College’s situation — receiving hand me down uniforms — is strange.

“Usually schools bring in the new cadets and the older cadets assess the newer ones to make sure everything fits right,” Johnson said. “They make sure the boots fit right so they don’t rub and blister.”

He added worn out or damaged uniforms are usually replaced. In Concordia’s case, worn out uniforms are being passed down to new cadets.

“The uniforms we are receiving are full of someone else’s body fluids,” Williams said. “It’s an embarrassment because we are serving in unserviceable uniforms.”

In some cases, cadets aren’t receiving uniforms at all.

She said 20 of the 32 students in the Concordia ROTC program have Army Combat Uniforms — the current battle uniforms worn by the U.S. Army — and 15 of the 32 students have the dress uniforms. Some of the female students are also forced to wear male uniforms because of funding problems, Williams said.

She asked some of her cadets who attended the city council meeting to show council members examples of the uniforms her ROTC battalion receives.

In addition to receiving hand-me-down uniforms, she said some of the training gear is completely incorrect. Williams pointed out the difference between the uniform she was wearing and a piece of equipment her ROTC battalion received.

“If you notice the color of the uniforms, this is what the world is wearing,” Williams said, pointing to her own uniform. “We still have the (Battle Combat Uniforms). These went out eight years ago; we no longer use these for anything.”

Professor of military science Greg Wall, who oversees Marion Military Institute, Judson College and Concordia College, said Marion Military Institute provides basic services for Concordia College, such as field-training uniforms, field training and transportation. Colleges usually provide a building, computers and pay for utilities.

Though Concordia College is using hand-me-down uniforms, Johnson said city councils don’t usually purchase them for a ROTC battalion to make up for a lapse in funding.

“A uniform is a military service item,” he said. “It’s not something you can buy off of a shelf.”

Williams also talked about the low commission rate of her cadets. In Concordia College ROTC program’s brief history, no students have been commissioned as Army officers. Williams said she was told Concordia’s program could be cut as a result.

Wall said the rate isn’t too troublesome and the program is on the right track.

“There are prospects to contact,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a little while for programs to become established. It looks like they are headed in the right direction.”

The student closest to being commissioned is in his third year at Concordia College’s program, meaning he has one more year.

There are several second-year students who are on track to become Army officers, Williams said.

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