September 03, 2012

Adding Architecture Back to Case


As a CWRU alum, it has always struck me as odd that a top-flight research university such as ours does not have a School of Architecture. Of course, the old Western Reserve University had a School of Architecture; it closed, but its successor, the Department of Architecture, survived until just after the merger of Case and Western Reserve.

It seems to me that several of our peer institutions, as well as those whose ranks we aspire to reach (such as the Ivy League Schools) have professional schools of architecture offering B.Arch and M.Arch degrees. Adding an architecture school would give CWRU yet another professional field that its graduates can impact and dominate. It would provide creative and talented students an outlet and a chance to make a positive impact upon society. It seems only natural that some sort of exploratory/fundraising effort should take place in this regard.

What do the rest of you think? Has there ever been any serious discussion about reviving architecture as a field of study at Case? If so, then what steps, if any, have been taken in that direction? If this idea has never been discussed formally, then who here agrees with me that this is a field that CWRU should consider adding?

Please respond, and give me your thoughts!

LTC Ryon F. Adams
AFPAK Hand Officer
Pentagon, VA
CWRU '94

May 01, 2010

New Blog Series Possible This Winter

To the CWRU Community,

In all likelihood, I'll be deploying to Afghanistan next winter.

I am considering doing a blog about my experiences while I'm over there. Before I waste my time with that, however, I'd like to gauge whether there would be any interest in such a thing.

Please let me know.

MAJ Ryon F. Adams
United States Army
CWRU '94

October 11, 2008

Concerning VA Benefits for Employees of Private Military Companies

"The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government."


I'm an Active Army Major (Logistics Corps), and am currently a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. I would like to discuss the phenomenon of Private Military Companies (PMC). As most people are already aware, more than 100,000 contractors are currently involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a significant number have been killed or injured.

I have heard people ask the question as to whether or not contractors working for PMCs that are killed or injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other combat zones should be entitled to some sort of Veteran's benefits. After all, did they not perform a service of benefit to their country, in a hostile area, during wartime? Were they not subject to many of the same risks that a servicemember might be, and in many cases, perform the same type of work? In that regard, how is their work different from a servicemember's, and if it isn't, then why should they not be entitled to a comparable level of government benefits?

I would like to make the case that a private military contractor's work is significantly different from a servicemember's, in that 1) it is designed primarily to increase the wealth of his employer, rather than to protect national interests, and 2) there is an element of coercion present in military service that does not exist in private military companies. Given those differences, I would argue that the same level of government benefits should not be provided to an employee of a private military company.

In a recent graduate finance course that I took, I was told that the goal of finance is to maximize shareholder wealth. It seems to me that employees of private military companies, including those that work for PMCs contracted to the United States, work with that primary goal in mind. After all, like every other private sector employee, their employer has to make a profit off of their work, and their work has to in some way increase with wealth of the firm's owners. In that regard, working for a PMC differs markedly from working for the government. When you work for the government, the goal is to accomplish whatever mission the nation's leaders decide needs to be accomplished, not to maximize some private business owner's wealth. Given that difference, it's hardly inappropriate to treat the work that servicemembers do differently from that of PMC employees when it comes to VA benefits.

Moreover, there is an element of coercion present in military service that is not present in private military contracting. For example, if an employee of a PMC decides that he no longer wishes to work for that firm, he is free to leave; the worst thing that might happen to him is that he might be sued for breach of contract.

By contrast, if a servicemember is still within his or her contractual period, and he or she decides one day not to show up for work, then he or she could be declared AWOL, be subject to a court-martial, and could possibly be thrown in prison. It makes sense to give servicemembers, all of whom agree to that element of coercion, a certain government benefit that would not accrue to people like PMC employees that don't.

Any benefits provided to PMC employees should come from their employer, as is the case with other forms of private sector employment. Although some PMC employees could become injured on the job, and receive no benefits from their employer, that is a reality of private sector employment, and a risk that the employee assumes when they agree to work for the PMC. Any benefits paid or denied should be subject to the employee's contract, and be adjudicated in accordance with applicable private sector contract law.

MAJ Ryon F. Adams
CGSC Class 09-01
CWRU '94