Lt. Col. Scott Walker is back at home on the Hill.
The new head of the Department of Military Science graduated from WKU in 1990 and has returned to lead an Army ROTC program that changed his life.
Walker arrived at WKU as a walk-on football player after graduating from Taylor County High School in 1984.
“I had no intention of joining the Army,” he said. “After three semesters of no scholarship, I needed help to continue college. But what I really needed was something that was going to help me mature. I found that by enlisting in the Kentucky National Guard.”
Walker left WKU for basic training and advanced individual training. “I returned to Western as a better student and a better football player. I didn’t realize it, but I was leveraging the Army’s values (loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage).”
When he returned to campus, he earned a full scholarship to play football, got involved with the Hilltopper Battalion Army ROTC program and finished his last two years at WKU. After graduating in 1990 he entered active duty in field artillery.
When he first came to WKU, Walker had no career in mind. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but the Army helped guide me,” he said.
“Now 23 years later I’ve returned to continue my career where it all began.”
Walker’s career includes three tours of duty since 9/11 and other deployments that include Kuwait, Iraq and Somalia. In addition, he spent many years deployed to Latin America in support of U.S. counter drug efforts. Most recently, he served as a Brigade Operations Officer for the Army Marketing and Research Group at Fort Knox.
“This has been one of my career goals,” he said. “I had dreamed about being PMS (Professor of Military Science) when I left. As the possibility presented itself, I became more active in the pursuit of getting this position. I always kept in contact through alumni and I had aspired to be PMS for some time.”
Leading the Military Science and ROTC programs, which are housed in WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, is more than a job for Walker. “It’s the spirit and commitment to the university,” he said.
The position provides an opportunity to teach, coach and mentor future leaders and affect a positive impact on their future.
“Something unique for me is that I run into alumni or faculty every day that I knew as a student or a player. It’s an opportunity to re-engage, give back and be a valued member of the Hilltopper team again,” Walker said.
Walker is inspired by the opportunity to train tomorrow’s leaders.
Cadets in the ROTC program come from all walks of student life – ranging from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines to nursing, music and history. Also, athletes make great ROTC candidates since they are natural leaders and comfortable in the fluid environment.
“This is more than a career. This is a lifestyle,” he said. “We are preparing our future leaders not only military service, but as future assets to their communities. Military leadership attributes will make them successful on or off the battlefield and in or out of the classroom.”
Walker’s primary goal is to raise the profile of the Army ROTC program. “The biggest challenge is awareness, not only on campus but even within the local community.”
He also cited the following from military surveys: There is a growing disconnect between the American public and the military, more young adults are ruling out the military and ceasing to consider it as a viable occupation. “We have to re-establish our presence and visibility in the community in order to educate the social worth of military jobs and correct misperceptions, particularly among the ‘military undecided,’” he said.
“My intent is to be more involved on campus and have our cadets more involved with activities and organizations on campus,” he said. “I want cadets participating at any opportunity where they can support and leave a positive impression with peers and prospects alike.”
Walker plans to take advantage of opportunities to make the campus and community more aware of the ROTC program and to dispel myths and misconceptions about military life. “Not every officer is going to deploy or go fight in Afghanistan. You can have a family and a home.”
The ROTC program also can play an important role in WKU’s retention efforts, “Incoming freshmen want to belong to organizations and the ROTC can provide that team environment and a sense of belonging.”
The Army also provides an opportunity to see the world in non-combat zones. Walker’s career has included duty in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Spain. “It’s amazing the opportunities that are out there and the life experiences that the Army has provided in 23 years since I graduated from Western. I would recommend it for anyone.”
Contact: Scott Walker, (270) 745-4293.