On Post

VMI Ethics Team Places Second in Military Competition

Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85 (center) congratulates Col. Patrick Looney, Riley Shultz ’24, Ethan Webster ’25, and Ryan Manning ’26

Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent (center), congratulates Col. Patrick Looney, Riley Shultz ’24, Ethan Webster ’25, and Ryan Manning ’26 for their strong performance at the Military Ethics Case Competition.—VMI Photo by Kelly Nye.

The VMI ethics team recently placed second at the Military Ethics Case Competition held at the United States Naval Academy 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 U. S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and VMI.

Team members who traveled to Annapolis included Riley Shultz ’24, cadet-in-charge; Cadet Ethan Webster ’25; and Cadet Ryan Manning ’26. Team members who remained on post were Cadets Riley Malone ’25 and Isaiah Glover ’27. The team was sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Ethics and coached by Col. Patrick Looney, CLE deputy director.

According to Looney, the Military Ethics Case Competition is the team’s most anticipated event of the year. “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 pregnancy and confidentiality or recommending a modification to one or both. The cadets researched the existing rules, regulations, and orders to gain understanding and 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, 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 by 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 was pleased with their strong showing this year, only falling short to West Point by two points. The Air Force Academy finished in third place.

Shultz, a native of O’Fallon, Illinois, graduated in May with a degree in international studies and double minored in Arabic and national security. He stated that ethics provides the unique challenge of looking at a problem from multiple aspects of the ethical and legal. “Finding solutions that satisfy the legal and ethical dimensions is a fun and rewarding challenge.”