- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cadets at the famed Virginia Military Institute are being offered coloring books as a way of dealing with the stresses of becoming citizen-soldiers.

Lexington, Virginia, is home to one of the most storied educational institutions in the nation. VMI, a state-run school founded in 1839, routinely churns out highly educated and patriotic leaders. Now, however, a “Stress Busters” program made available to cadets is raising eyebrows among alumni.

Screenshots of VMI’s website on Tuesday by The Washington Free Beacon notified visitors that the 2016-2017 academic year would merge cadet government under the Cadet Equity Association’s (CEA) Training and Education branch. CEA educators trained in various forms of stress management offer “activities such as yoga, therapy dogs, coloring book stations, card/game stations, and grab-and-go snacks” for a “Stress Busters” held on Reading Day.

VMI removed references to the program on Tuesday upon the publication of The Free Beacon’s article.

“VMI once took America’s youth and prepared them for duty and the harsh realities of war,” an anonymous VMI alumnus and veteran told the website for its story. “Now, for $20K a year, VMI will turn your teenagers back into children.”

Prior to the removal of the text by school administrators, the program was billed as “an opportunity for cadets to unwind and relax before studying for finals.”

VMI Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III said in a statement released Friday that a “one-page handout with geometric designs that can be colored” was offered to cadets instead of books, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Peay, who claims The Free Beacon inaccurately represented the “Stress Busters” program, said VMI is committed to the well-being of its cadets.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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