I am a retired Army Officer. I spent three years teaching ROTC. I taught college sophomores. I am outraged at a Media Matters article castigating Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman for not recognizing "Jared Polis College ROTC service." They were commenting on this Daily Camera story.
In my day, the ROTC classes at the freshman and sophmore level were just that, classes. There was no military obligation. Students weren't issued uniforms. Other than an awards ceremony that recognized academic achievement, freshmen and sophomore students didn't stand in formation. No one considers a student who attends these classes to have "served" their country.
In the early 1980's, when I taught, Military Science instructors were under pressure not to flunk students who signed up for the course and didn't show up for classes. I gave a student an A who never showed her face in class. I found myself having to provide the instruction to her privately when she discovered that I would be flunking her.
To have anyone equate this lax environment with real military service as Media Matters has done is offensive. If it is allowed to stand, ROTC detachments will be overrun with future politicians who cynically want to have a military service box checked without any fear of being put in harms way.
This isn't intended to be a slap at Jared Polis. It is unlikely that he thought about being a politician at the time he was taking ROTC. Life's circumstances change in unforseen ways, and they have changed in good ways for him. We don't want to accuse him of being a cynic at 18.
At the same time, we who have served would dishonor ourselves to allow Media Matters to make their comments without challenge.
Jared Polis isn't helped by this kind of mindless carping. Silverman and Caplis aren't damaged, either. The same cannot be said for Media Matters.