Worthy Salute: Air Force ROTC program part of ‘best large detachment in the nation’

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Not much time was needed before Stetson’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program received its first national salute. 

In 2018, the university welcomed the Air Force ROTC program on campus in partnership with our School of Business Administration. On Oct. 29, Air Force ROTC Detachment 157 — including Stetson, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona State College, University of Central Florida-Daytona and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — received the Right of Line Large Detachment award for the 2019-2020 school year. The award, recognizing both cadets and staff, is for “best detachment in the nation.” 

Award criteria included overall production of Air Force and Space Force officers, educationally focused efforts, recruiting and retention, university and public relations, and cadet activities. Stetson had seven cadets participating.

Appropriately, the honor was presented virtually less than two weeks before Veterans Day.

“Stetson University’s support of our organization has greatly expanded the diversity of both the students and their respective majors to develop our future Air Force and Space Force.”

Col. Jason Patla, PhD, Commander of Detachment 157

Detachment 157 is the third largest detachment nationwide from a total of 145 organizations, servicing more than 1,000 colleges and universities, as well as the U.S. Space Force, a new branch of the Armed Forces. Hosted at Embry-Riddle, Detachment 157 competes against renown senior military colleges, such as The Citadel, Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute, along with large conference programs, such as Florida State University, Ohio State University and Texas A&M. 

Air Force ROTC is a college program designed to prepare students to become an Air Force Officer while earning a college degree. The program consists of up to four years of military education and allows students to experience the Air Force for up to two years without incurring an obligation, unless they’re are on an AFROTC scholarship.

Col. Jason Patla, PhD, commander of Detachment 157, lauded Stetson’s contributions.

Col. Jason Patla, PhD, Detachment 157 commander; and Neal Mero, Ph.D., dean and professor of Management in Stetson’s School of Business Administration, welcomed Air Force ROTC to Stetson’s DeLand campus in 2018.

“Stetson University’s support of our organization has greatly expanded the diversity of both the students and their respective majors to develop our future Air Force and Space Force,” said Patla, also professor/chair of aerospace studies at Embry-Riddle.

“Stetson offers the highest caliber students available for accession as an officer into the United States Air Force and Space Force. We are so happy to be part of the ‘Hatter Family.’”  

In addition, Patla praised Neal Mero, PhD, dean of the Stetson’s School of Business, who is a 22-year veteran of the Air Force. 

“Stetson, through the amazing efforts of Dean Mero, is helping future Air Force and Space Force officers by providing additional financial support to recipients of any Air Force ROTC scholarship,” Patla noted before putting out a call for an even greater Stetson presence in the future.

“Foreign language majors are especially sought-after, and the degree focus often opens up even more scholarship opportunities to interested Stetson students,” Patla added.

Scottlyn Britt ’22, majoring in music with an outside field in business, seized her opportunity. And she has run with it. 

“Joining the Air Force ROTC program and the Detachment 157 family has been the best decision I have made during my college career,” Britt said. “Being a part of cultivating this program in only its third year of existence on Stetson’s campus has definitely been daunting but also extremely rewarding.

“Our Detachment winning this award only confirms what I and my fellow cadets already know to be true: We are a part of the most elite Detachment in the nation and are receiving the best training to prepare us for our future careers in the Air Force.”

Stetson Dining to celebrate veterans on Veterans Day

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, veterans can present their military ID for a free medium coffee in the Coffee Shop, featuring Barnies Coffee & Tea, or at Einstein Bros Bagels. Stetson Dining thanks you for your service.

-Michael Candelaria