Reservist called to active duty

By Dawn Panka

Christine Ervin has only been at NIU for three weeks, but she has already dropped out.

Ervin, 25, is the first Army reservist from NIU to withdraw from classes to fulfill her call to active duty.

Reservists can be called to duty for three-month periods by the President, with Congress having the option to extend that period for another three months. Ervin, an elementary education major, was called to active duty at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

NIU gave Ervin a full tuition refund for this semester. “Everything went smoothly,” Ervin said. “I think if this would have happened last week they would not have had the paperwork ready. No one expected a student to go so soon.”

Ervin, a sergeant in the reserves, has been on alert for four weeks and has been preparing to leave for the past three weeks.

“We knew it could happen at any time,” Ervin said. “At least this ends the waiting and wondering, but one of my first thoughts was: What if a war breaks out?”

Ervin is a reservist in Unit 724, a detachment platoon in Davenport, Iowa, from the full company located in Peoria, Illinois. “Unit 724 is a transportation unit,” she said. “When we get there we will be responsible for transferring trucks, supplies and water.”

When signing up as a reserve, one never thinks of the possibility of danger, Ervin said. “I never thought I would be put in the situation of being called up,” she said.

Ervin leaves today for Fort Sheridan for training and uniforms and will be assigned a station in a few weeks. However, she said she doesn’t know where her unit will be sent.

“If I’m there for six months, I will lose this whole school year, and graduation will have to be postponed,” Ervin said.

She has been a reservist for two years and previously served active duty in Germany from 1986 to 1988. After completing her tour of duty, Ervin enrolled at Sauk Valley Community College in Sterling and earned her associate of arts degree in less than two years.

After receiving the degree, Ervin transferred to NIU this fall. “One of the hardest parts about leaving is having to postpone school,” Ervin said.