ASU ROTC cut affects high school students

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - The ROTC program at Arkansas State University is one of 13 to shutdown across the country.

Its closure has greatly impacted one Region 8 family.

One son, Christopher Barkley, is a sophomore at ASU in the ROTC program. The other, Jesse Barkley, is a senior at Paragould High School with intentions of attending ASU's ROTC program after graduation.

"I've always had plans of going into the military," Jesse said. "I just liked the routine of life, the morals, you know, everybody just trying to be the best they can be and I liked that."

"This is what I've wanted to do since I was very small," Christopher said. "I'm helping people. That's essentially what I wanna do is help people."

However, these brothers now have to change where they make these goals happen.

"It was kind of like a devastating blow to say the least. This is my family up here. So I'm gonna ride it out until that's it and then I'll probably go to U of A," Christopher said.

Jesse wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps at ASU.

"It's kinda heartbreaking. I thought it would be a pretty cool deal if I could graduate and get an ROTC scholarship and also go there. But, I mean, for it to shutdown, I don't really know. I guess I'm gonna have to go to a different college. Because if the ROTC program isn't there, then I can't get a scholarship to go there," Jesse said.

Now, Jesse said he will follow Christopher to Fayetteville.

"Pretty far away. It would have been much more convenient to go to A State. A lot of my friends that graduate from this high school are gonna go to that college. So I'll be going to a completely different scenery. I'd rather stay here if I could," Jesse said.

Even though they have to make a tough decision, Christopher said the entire ASU battalion is trying to stay positive.

"We always have each other's backs in situations. If we ever need anything from one another, we're always there to help each other," Christopher said.

Christopher said they are also trying to stick together.

"Most of us have gotten together and decided that we're gonna go to U of A State together," Christopher said.

Christopher said that's their back up plan. ASU is still fighting the ROTC closure.

He said there are currently 13 Pentagon employees in D.C. who are from this ASU battalion.

Christopher said he and the rest of his military family will wait to transfer until the end of their junior year to see if the program can be saved.

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