Newly appointed ROTC Maj. Wendi McBride-Rentschler, also an assistant professor of Military Science, leads Radford University’s detachment from its on-campus home of Russell Hall.
When the ROTC program moved on-campus in late 2016, the new location gave the program increased visibility to the surrounding campus community.
“First and foremost, the cadets are students, and this helps them be better students,” McBride-Rentschler said. “It enhances their ability to succeed. The move allows us to create a better support network for our students and we are more accessible to their professors as well.”
McBride-Rentschler hopes to make use of existing on campus programs to aid the physical and professional development of the cadets.
“We’re trying to find out if we can use the Athletics Department to get more involved with that because on the Army side if we have a soldier that gets hurt they still continue to be physically fit,” she said. “I’d also like to have physical therapy students help us work with the cadets. The Army has physical therapists, so it would give our cadets practice working with them and it would give Radford students valuable applied experience.”
With the help of Sgt. 1st Class Carl Faulk, Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Brush and Capt. Patrick Zebrowski, McBride-Rentschler hopes to bring Radford University ROTC alumni and veterans to campus to speak with the cadets.
Having leaders and veterans speak to cadets gives them a valuable insight into what a career in the military is actually like, McBride-Rentschler said.
The first visitor was retired Col. John Dillion, who spoke at the Key Leader Engagement on Sept. 8.
Among the goals for the ROTC detachment is an increased presence in the surrounding community.
“We want to transfer our camaraderie into the community,” she said. “Our first event is helping with a with a junior ROTC ranger challenge put on by a local high school. We’ll be grading some of their events.”
McBride-Rentschler hopes that the increased involvement on campus and in the community boosts the image of the ROTC program.
“We still get looks every now and then,” she said. “I’m hoping our involvement and increased presence on campus shows our support for this university and this community. I want to grow our program as much as we can.”
— Max Esterhuizen