Missouri State University
Nick Martinez

Nick Martinez

  • Captain, U.S. Army
  • Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri
  • MS, defense and strategic studies/WMD, 2019

Alumnus set to continue family legacy with master’s degree

Capt. Nick Martinez comes from a family where defending and protecting is a tradition.

His grandfathers were in the Coast Guard and Marine Corps. His dad in the Air Force. Driven by a desire to jump out of planes, Nick picked the Army.

Martinez calls the military “the family business.”

While stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, he learned about Missouri State University’s Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies degree.

The DSS department is Missouri State’s only department located in the Washington D.C., metropolitan area. As the central hub of our government, this location gives students access to people, places and opportunities relative to their career.

DSS offers its master’s degree with two option areas:

  • Defense and Strategic Studies/General
  • Defense and Strategic Studies/Weapons of Mass Destruction

Martinez pursued the DSS/Weapons of Mass Destruction degree.

William Robert Van Cleave, former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, founded Missouri State University’s DSS program.

It is fully accredited by the Missouri Higher Learning Commission and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

The selling point: online classes

In Virginia, there are seated and online classes.

“The strengths of the program are understanding the geopolitical implications of WMDs, and how our departments of defense and homeland security approach these complex and potential threats.”

But for officers like Martinez, the Defense and Strategic Studies/Weapons of Mass Destruction degree is available 100% online for soldiers and students all over the world.

“The online classes were the absolute selling point,” he said. “Although we were full-time students, the Army wasn’t going to let us be only full-time students for this program.

“The course load management was phenomenal. The classes were challenging but given to us two or three classes per semester. Our professors understood we have families and full-time jobs as Army officers.”

Dr. John P. Rose, head of the DSS department, came to Fort Leonard Wood to tell soldiers about the program and it was an easy sell.

“Just based off all the benefits that would come from it, higher-level thinking, strategic mindset, it was almost a no-brainer,” Martinez said.  “As soon as they were done with their pitch, I asked, ‘Where do I sign up?’”

Seven officers at Fort Leonard Wood started the program together and they all finished in May 2019.

The professors were outstanding and practitioners in their field, so they brought real-world experience and knowledge to the table, he said.

The faculty members include retired senior military officers, intelligence officers, defense policymakers, and high-ranking national security officials.

Using his knowledge to advise and serve

 Nick Martinez in military uniform.

As an officer, Martinez said it is implied that once you reach the rank of Major, you should get a master’s. He referred to it as “leading and learning by example.”

“The program adds the value of understanding WMD when it comes to intelligence gathering, our near peer threats, rouge states and how we can implement this in counter terrorism initiatives,” he said.

In August 2018, he took Company Commander of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood.

He graduated from Missouri State in May 2019. A few months later, his second daughter was born.

The military paid for most of the program but he also received scholarships from DSS.  Martinez refers to his degree as “invaluable.”

“I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in CWMDs, increasing critical-thinking skills, but I think it should be mandated for all chemical officers,” Martinez said. “Where we will really see the benefits is as we progress through the Army when we are in strategic-level positions and have face-to-face interactions and advise our higher-level decision makers.”