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Congressman speaks to ROTC about service

By Katie Graziano
On November 1, 2011

Congressman Chris Gibson came to Marist on Monday, Oct. 17, and spoke to a group of approximately 20 Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) members about his experience in the ROTC and how he feels about the future of the United States.

"I think if we make the right choices, our best days are still ahead of us," Gibson, who represents the 20th District of New York, said.  "That's why I ran for Congress: to revitalize our country, to help grow jobs, to move back towards a balanced budget, and to protect our cherished way of life."

Major John McBride explained Marist's ROTC program to Gibson.  He focused on four key areas: funding, training, academics and medical support.  McBride mentioned current issues to Gibson, including scholarship funding and medical expenses.

"Right now the cadets are not covered the same way as West Point cadets," McBride said. 

He explained that if a Marist ROTC cadet injured himself playing football, he would have to pay for the insurance. 

Ultimately, Marist would like to have their own ROTC program rather than the partnership program that currently exists between Marist and Fordham University.  Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro said that outside of West Point, there might not be a better location in the Hudson Valley for an ROTC program than Marist

"For the nation, [ROTC is] an invaluable program," Molinaro said. "It's a strong statement from the campus and the college in supporting and recognizing those who choose service and the country."

Gibson, who enlisted at the age of 17 and went on to become an officer at Siena College, said that he does not regret his 23 years of service.  He emphasized that the way of life people are used to in the U.S. is worth keeping safe. 

"Never in the history of mankind has there been a country so prosperous and so free," Gibson said. 

Currently, Gibson is using his time in Congress to better inform the administration and the people on Capitol Hill. 

"I feel very respected. Whether it be a Republican or Democrat in Congress, they are very interested in learning what you are all about," Gibson said. He encouraged Marist's ROTC members to pursue excellence. 

"It is not enough to say you've tried.  You've got to produce," he said. 

Gibson's words left an impact.  One ROTC member, Company Commander Teresa Fleming, said that she is concerned about her future because of all of the issues in the world, though she is excited to be helping the U.S. Listening to Gibson was beneficial to her. 

"With his advice and his experience," Fleming said, "it was definitely inspiring and reassuring that I can do this and be a good leader and share the army values with my fellow peers and protect America."


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