One of the Army Reserve’s newest commanding generals, Maj. Gen. Bob D. Harter, picked Middle Tennessee State University for his first visit to a higher education institution since assuming his new duties.
Harter, commanding general of the 81st Readiness Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, toured MTSU’s Army ROTC detachment and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center on Feb. 15. He also shared mentoring advice with MTSU ROTC cadets.
“We’ve been a nation at war since before some of these cadets were born, and still these young men and women chose to raise their right hand and serve their country,” said Harter, who has led reserve operations in the southeastern U.S. since last September.
“I’m honored to come and speak to young people who embody that type of bravery and initiative.”
Harter visited MTSU at the invitation of Army Reserve Ambassador Andrew Oppmann, the university’s vice president for marketing and communications. Two other of the state’s civilian ambassadors — John Dyess of Franklin, Tennessee, and Travis Burchett of Chapmansboro, Tennessee — also participated.
The general began his MTSU tour with a brief ceremony at the university’s Veterans Memorial, where university officials unveiled an engraved brick commemorating his visit.
He then visited MTSU’s Army ROTC detachment, meeting with cadets either currently in the Army Reserve or who will commission into the Army Reserve upon graduation.
“I’m grateful that a high-ranking official from the reserve component came and talked to us,” said senior Cadet Urielle Umutoni. “I often have a lot of questions and not a lot of reserve officers to talk to, so it was great to have a reserve two-star come down and talk to us.”
Cadet Maxwell Kawaler, a sophomore, said it was “a little nerve-racking because it’s not often that I get to see someone in that high of a position, but I gained a lot of insight.
“As a future leader, I want my soldiers to feel like they can come to me with anything. I want to be able to help them and motivate them to grow and change. He seems like a motivating person.”
Harter later huddled with veterans and support workers at the Daniels Center, the largest and most comprehensive center of its kind in higher education. The center, named after the late Country Music Hall of Fame artist Charlie Daniels and his spouse, Hazel, serves all veterans, regardless of their affiliation with MTSU.
The general also observed a resiliency training workshop, open to veterans and others, sponsored by the American Red Cross on the MTSU campus and organized by Burchett, an executive with the Red Cross’ Tennessee Region.
The visit concluded with a lunch, hosted in MTSU’s President’s Executive Conference Room in the Student Union Building, where Harter answered questions and provided guidance to cadets. But it was his personal anecdotal stories that may have had the most impact.
“What I thought was the most valuable part of the whole day, is that he shared his life lessons,” Oppmann said. “The biggest advice he gave them was do the hard jobs … because that’s how you grow and create the forward momentum that helps you succeed and propel in your career.”
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)
Army Reserve public affairs officer Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Harlow of the 81st Readiness Division contributed to this report.