LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, best known as ROTC, will be phased out by Sept. 2015, according to Battalion Commander LTC James Hill.
Hill said the decision is part of the Army's strategic plan for the coming years.
Chancellor Joe Gow said his school was one of 13 programs chosen to be discontinued.
ROTC has existed on the UW-L campus for more than 40 years, according to Gow.
"You know it's a hard thing, (students) had plans and they were willing to make a great commitment to their country and those are gonna change now a little bit," he said.
Thursday Gow received an official letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Army that reads, in part, "The Army arrived at this difficult decision after careful consideration of how best to accomplish its mission with a reduction of resources."
That means the Army training program for UW-L, Viterbo University, St. Mary's University and Winona State University students will be phased out by the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.
"You put your heart and soul into something and you really want to do a good job. You see the results of that: Students are doing well and succeeding. But then to know it's going to go away," Hill said.
Hill said he's following orders, but it's hard to know that sophomores and freshman in the program will not be able to complete the program as part of the Eagle Battalion.
"It's kinda heart wrenching for them. They invested time. They'll have options. Obviously, the government going to honor the contracts," he said, adding their scholarships will be honored as well.
While the program may not continue, Hill said many of his students will continue military education.
Those students will need to transfer to a school with ROTC.
Chancellor Gow did reach out to Congressman Ron Kind, and Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson to see if there is any way to avoid phasing out the program.
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