A Matter of Valor

Standing in the gap on the college campuses

by LTC Jim Hocker, USAR

My ROTC buddies and I were a rowdy and raunchy group, and that lifestyle continued when we entered active duty.

It would have been easy for me to continue my downward slide, but by God’s grace my wife, Ruthie, and I were both saved around the time I made Major.

Now I look back at my ROTC days and wonder how things might have been if Christians on campus had reached out to me then—how I could have been used by the Lord to have a positive impact for His Kingdom during my tours as a platoon leader, company commander, and ROTC professor.

A sizeable majority of our nation’s officers come from ROTC programs on about 300 hub campuses. Add in the smaller cross-enrolled schools and we’re looking at over a thousand colleges and universities with around 34,000 college students involved in ROTC.

The Army alone commissions about 5,000 ROTC officers each year. The Valor movement stands in the gap on the college campuses. For example, Army Cadet Command is the size of a U.S. Army division, yet there are currently only two full time chaplains to help with spiritual development.

The cadet and midshipmen-led Valor movement began five years ago as a hybrid between Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry and their Campus Ministry. The Campus ministry already had staff teams on most of the campuses.

These staff members were young and energetic, and did a great job of relating to the cadets and mids—yet most of them didn’t have military backgrounds, so they couldn’t mentor these future officers in critical areas like Christian military leadership and how to have a God-honoring military marriage.

Two years ago OCF and Valor formed a partnership to equip and encourage future officers to minister effectively in the military society. The vision is for these cadets and mids to join OCF prior to commissioning. Many Valor and Military Ministry staff are also OCF members, and we have a common mission. It is literally a match made in heaven. So what does this OCF and Valor partnership look like?

  • The civilian campus staff have embraced this partnership. OCF’s Rocky Mountain High is one of their summer projects, and campus staff bring their cadets and mids to OCF retreats.
  • Valor staff provide resources, including ROTC Bible studies, Cadet & Midshipmen Survival Kits, and summer projects to foreign military academies in Romania, Guatemala, and Bulgaria.
  • OCF and Valor have teamed up for several years to assist the chaplains during Army ROTC summer training at Fort Lewis.
  • An interactive database where officers can find one another after commissioning.

So what’s missing? One word—you! We need active duty, reserve, and retired OCF members to step up and get involved with Valor on the ROTC campuses.

If you’re assigned to ROTC duty, that’s even better. If you don’t live near a campus you can still mentor cadets and mids via phone and e-mail. We’ll help you get plugged in and train you on distance coaching techniques.

Take a look at the following articles to see how this is working at the University of Minnesota. Campus staff at “The U” are helping cadet and midshipmen Valor leaders, and OCF members in the area are coming alongside to mentor and encourage them.