Benishek joins to fight to keep NMU ROTC program

First District Congressman Dan Benishek today sent a letter, signed by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, to Secretary of the Army John McHugh asking questions regarding the proposed closure of NMU’s ROTC program.  A copy of the letter is below.

 “I’m shocked by the proposed closure of NMU’s ROTC program.  I’m going to continue working closely with Northern to help them get an explanation from the Army as to why NMU’s successful program was targeted for closure.  We are continuing to gather more information, but there are some serious questions that need to be answered.  What were the criteria used?  Why was it done this way?  I believe NMU and its students deserve transparency and some answers on why this decision was made,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek M.D.

Northern Michigan University found out Thursday that the U.S. Army plans to eliminate the Army Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) program at NMU and several other institutions.  NMU was notified that its program is one of 13 being eliminated in May 2015, the only one in Michigan.

Since it opened on the campus, NMU has graduated nearly 400 students from its military science/ROTC program. NMU currently has 65 ROTC cadets, 10 of whom are projected to be commissioned this year and another 14 next year. Northern’s program serves both U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard cadets. The surprise Army announcement will subsequently impact the Michigan National Guard by taking away a training and educational source.

“Northern Michigan University will explore every appeals opportunity available to fight this,” said NMU President David Haynes, who is a veteran. “Our current cadets and all of the high school students in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin hoping to prepare to serve their nation in the Army following completion of their college degrees are being punished by this decision, and we will not take that lightly. The Upper Peninsula is an area that, both historically and currently, has an extremely high level of military service and this is not the way the U.S. Army should repay that tradition of service.”

The notification letter received by NMU administrators said, “This action is not a reflection of either the quality of your program or the outstanding cadets you have produced.”

“We want a clear explanation of the methodology used in the decision-making, especially why so many rural institutions are on the list,” said Haynes. “Northern has seen growth in the number of officers commissioned over the past five years. We’ve also had numerous occasions when our cadets ranked among the best in the nation at U.S. Army ROTC leadership and training camps. We want a clear and reasonable explanation as to why they would eliminate NMU’s program when it is so cost effective in developing officers.”

Although NMU’s program is affiliated with the U.S. Army, it also receives funding from the Michigan Guard Assistance program and from NMU tuition and fees generated from students taking military science courses, but not receiving Army or Michigan Guard tuition assistance.

There are 273 Army ROTC programs in the United States, including seven in Michigan.