PETERSBURG, Va. -- Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, swore in nine new U.S. Army officers from Virginia State University's (VSU) ROTC Commissioning ceremony May 1.

Via, a 1980 VSU graduate who received his commission here, recalled how the ROTC program helped prepare him for his military career. In his remarks to the new second lieutenants, Via said the VSU Trojan Warrior Battalion trained him on the values and abilities necessary to become a leader.

With this year's commissioning, Via noted that VSU has produced more than 1,600 officers, including eight general officers. He declared the new officers part of "a long and distinct legacy at Virginia State University."

Via recounted two events at VSU that shaped his life. The first, he said, was meeting the ROTC recruiting officer. The second, was meeting his wife, Linda.

"It's a tremendous honor to commission these new officers who will lead and shape our Army and its soldiers for the future," Via said. "I've challenged them to make service their focus and trust their watchword as they accept the enormous responsibility entrusted to them by the American people."

Via will also commission cadets at Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University, and Bowie State University.

In his role at the Army Materiel Command, Via leads a $50 billion organization charged with providing materiel and equipment to the nation's warfighters throughout the world. With headquarters in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, the command has a presence in all 50 states and impacts 145 countries.

Army ROTC has a total of 273 programs and an enrollment of more than 35,000 students at colleges and universities throughout the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The program produces about 60 percent of the second lieutenants who join the Army and its Guard and Reserve components.