LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) - About a month after the Army announced it was phasing out its ROTC program at UW-La Crosse, the program now has some hope of staying open.
The program was one of 13 across the nation set to close because of budget issues, but the Army announced late Wednesday it would be putting all 13 on a two-year probationary plan.
"This now has changed back in their favor," said Lt. Col. James Hill, the program's commander.
Ever since the Army's announcement, Hill said everyone, especially the students has been wondering what it means.
"They're just elated," said Hill. "You can tell by the tone of the email messages that I'm receiving."
For more than 40 years, the program has provided hundreds of students with an opportunity to learn valuable training and leadership skills to one day serve our country.22862112
"It's a job at the end of college," said Hill. "At this day and age, it's a nice thing to have so they have a great job, it's something they've spent four years learning how to do, so they get the degree, they've got the training and they're a leader."
Through its scholarship, ROTC has also helped some students receive a college education that they might not otherwise have been able to afford.
The university's chancellor, Joe Gow, said any chance of keep the program's doors open is a good one.
"Obviously we're very pleased with that development because it gives us time at UW-L to make some changes, and hopefully convince the Army that this is a program they should keep," said Gow.
The details of the probationary plan are still being worked out, but both say Wednesday's announcement is a good start.
"This is obviously very good news," said Hill. "The students are happy, the cadets are happy and their parents, I'm sure, will be when they find that news out. It's great."
Rep. Ron Kind and Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army expressing their concerns about the decision to close the program.
Jason Church, U.W-L and ROTC program graduate, works with Sen. Johnson's office and also helped draft that letter.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Army Wisconsin National Guard contacted the school, saying it would be interested in starting an ROTC program if the current program was ending.
UW-La Crosse's ROTC program gets a life-line.
The program on the campus was set to end in 2015, but Wednesday the Army announced that it will instead put it on a two year probation plan.
A tight budget led to the Army's original decision to end 13 programs across the nation including the one at UW-L.
Rep. Ron Kind and other members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of Army expressing opposition to the decision and seeking a solution to save the program.
Congressman Kind says he'll be working with the Army to make sure the program takes the necessary steps to be able to continue at UW-L.22844376
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