Best Defense

U. of Texas prof: Keep these crazy vets and ROTC cadets away from me!

A history professor at the University of Texas at Arlington candidly discusses why she no longer wants to teach military history. Basically, there are too many vets and ROTC cadets in the class, and they take this stuff too personally. By her account, they are waaaay too into the subject, and kind of nuts: Some ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A history professor at the University of Texas at Arlington candidly discusses why she no longer wants to teach military history. Basically, there are too many vets and ROTC cadets in the class, and they take this stuff too personally. By her account, they are waaaay too into the subject, and kind of nuts:

Some students admitted privately that they themselves were suffering from PTSD, but for various reasons had rejected available help. As we approached the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, a retired Air Force officer asked permission to recount his experiences searching for bodies in the rubble because he had been advised that it would help with his post-trauma disorder.

One student, a veteran, explained that he had been deployed six times and was now at the university in order to attend aviation school and thus avoid another deployment. Another student, one of several who seemed to be suffering from anxiety, frequently talked of all the guns he had purchased since he had returned. One had just returned home in December and had immediately begun classes in January, but confessed he simply could not relate to other students. Two dropped out because of combat wounds that required attention.

Enlisted veterans spoke disparagingly of officers commissioned through ROTC; veterans who had been commissioned through ROTC spoke disparagingly of military-academy graduates; “lifers” made clear that they, alone, could really understand military-history issues; veterans of one branch of military service made derogatory comments about members of other branches-and not in a teasing way. There was a noticeable edge to their class contributions that wasn’t present in my other classes.

What these students needed was personal catharsis, but I am not a trained psychologist. What these students craved was the opportunity to express their anger or pain, but my class was not the place to do it.

Tom again: I think it would be fun to teach a class of really engaged, committed students for whom the subject matter carried life-and-death importance. Sure, you’d get some “edge.” Just like we do in our comments section, from which. I learn a lot.

(HT to Scout)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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