JROTC is valuable; stop belittling it

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JROTC is valuable; stop belittling it

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Shirah Lister and Bryan Wilson

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The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) sounds to some like a high school military prep program created to lead students to join the U.S. military. Even though most students who join JROTC don’t end up in the military, it still offers valuable life skills to its members.

JROTC receives a lot of disapproval from students who are against the U.S. military, as it has been considered a military preparation program. Furthermore, people believe JROTC is meant to target underprivileged kids to sign them up for the military in exchange for college tuition. 

However, neither is true. Despite Wilson students’ criticism of JROTC, the program is not aimed at getting students to enlist. Instead, students who join JROTC are encouraged to participate in community service programs and are taught leadership skills. Those who finish the program can apply for special scholarships at some universities.

The program’s intent, according to the JROTC website, is to “motivate young people to be better citizens.” 

The program, unlike ROTC, which is a college military preparation program, does not require its members to join the military and many who are part of it will tell you it has little to no connection to the U.S. military. Although the pressed-to-perfection uniforms we see every Monday seem to be a symbol of military compliance to an outsider, they are actually considered a symbol of unity. 

Instead of preparing students for service, JROTC courses consist of lessons based on core values, such as leadership and cooperation. The program has also consistently given community service opportunities to its members, allowing them to give back to their community. It also offers chances for volunteering and encourages its members to set up programming to benefit other kids in their neighborhoods. 

Despite these impressive activities and achievements, there are many still students who can’t see past the uniform, which is becoming an inconvenience for JROTC members. 

Wilson students applaud themselves for being extremely socially conscious, but in this case, we are falling short. Wilson teaches us to be open-minded and questioning, but we need to pay more attention too. Part of this means don’t take things at face value; the uniform seems to be a call for military duty, but the majority of these students won’t be joining the military. 

And although you can make fun of it all you want, at the core, we must understand that this program has systematically motivated young people to be better citizens and students, which is pretty cool. •