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Honoring our heroes

November 10, 2016

From cannons firing on the Oval in the 1800s to today’s Veterans House, military and veteran students have helped shape The Ohio State University.

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The military sciences took root at Ohio State from day one.

The 1862 Morrill Land Grant Act signed by President Abraham Lincoln called for states to create institutions that would train future generations in agricultural studies, mechanical arts and military tactics. At Ohio State, the first recorded classes in tactics and drill were offered in 1874, taught by a lieutenant colonel who led infantrymen in the Civil War.

The university and the military program grew over the years, with Ohio State students serving in conflicts from the Spanish-American War to modern engagements in the Middle East.

Today, there are more than 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students at the university who are veterans, dependents and active duty, National Guard and reserve members. There are more than 1,200 faculty and staff veterans and about 400 Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC program participants on campus.

Ohio State’s proud tradition of supporting these service men and women carries on today as well. The university has been named a top academic institution for military and veteran students because of its affordable tuition, convenient health care services, a breadth and depth of academic opportunities and a full range of support programs designed specifically for service men and women.

Meanwhile, scholars at the university continue to offer unparalleled thought leadership on human conflict and its lasting effects on the world. U.S. World War I Centennial Commission recently hosted a national World War I symposium at Ohio State because of the university's strong military history program, according to Peter Mansoor, the General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History at Ohio State.

“Most universities in the United States don’t have a single military historian on their faculties,” says Mansoor, a retired U.S. Army colonel. “We have, in fact, five military historians on our faculty and a three diplomatic historians as well. It is really a strength of our history program that we teach what many universities have forsaken, and that is the world as it actually works in terms of violence and warfare, human conflict, and also peace and diplomacy, and how to, perhaps, learn the lessons that can make the world better going forward.”

A life of service

Col. Walter Betley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers taught in Ohio State's ROTC program and earned two degrees that launched him into a career in education. He sat down with Ohio State Alumni magazine for an interview this fall.