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VMI Places Second in Military Competition

The Virginia Military Institute Ethics Team recently placed second at the Military Ethics Case Competition held at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership in Annapolis, Maryland.

The competition is open to any senior military college. This year’s competitors included teams from the USNA, the Air Force Academy, West Point, and VMI.

Members of the team who traveled to Annapolis include Riley Shultz ’24, cadet-in-charge; Ethan Webster ’25; and Ryan Manning ’26. Team members who remained on post were Riley Malone ’25 and Isaiah Glover ’27.

They were sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Ethics (CLE) and coached by Col. Patrick Looney, deputy director of the CLE.

According to Looney, the Military Ethics Case Competition is the most anticipated event of the year for the team. “They spent weeks preparing. This year’s case was titled, ‘Confidentiality in the Services.’  Based on a real world scenario, the case involved a service member’s unexpected pregnancy in a combat zone and the specific actions that the service member, the chaplain, a doctor, and the unit took in response to the dilemma they faced,” he explained.

The team was given the option of supporting the existing Department of Defense and Naval instruction regarding both pregnancy and confidentiality, or recommending a modification to one or both. The cadets researched the existing rules, regulations, and orders to gain understanding, then applied them to the case.

They reached out to Col. John Casper ’04, Institute chaplain; Capt. Eli Facemire ’19, associate chaplain; and Dr. Melissa Krawiec ’01, Institute physician, for their expert advice. These experts were joined by Dr. Duncan Richter, the Charles S. Luck III ’55 Institute Professor in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies, for a final review and critique of the team. The “dress rehearsal” set up the team for success at the competition, in fielding questions from the panel of judges during the question and answer portion of the presentation.

The VMI team won the competition in 2023, and were pleased with their strong showing this year, only falling short to West Point by two points. The Air Force Academy finished in third place.

Webster, an international studies major with minors in economics and leadership studies, is from Blue Ridge, Virginia. He stated that VMI allows many opportunities to learn and grow, that are not available at other colleges and universities. “The ethics and debate team puts cadets in a high-pressure situation where they must be fast and concise in their responses. These skills translate into civilian and military applications that are invaluable for future careers. It was an honor to represent VMI at the Military Ethics bowl, and I look forward to competing next year.”

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