BY ADAM PRESTON
The Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) is a program that has existed since 1916 with the passage of the National Defense Act in response to WW1 and has continued here at Truman for quite a few years now. For as long as JROTC has been at Truman High School it feels as if it has never really been understood by the student population as more than just a program funded by the Army. Bay Colt, a fellow student at THS, understands JROTC as a “Military preparatory course”; going to show that there is a misconception amongst our peers about what the program is.
The primary mission of JROTC varies in response when asking the different Branches. Here at Truman, our JROTC program is funded by the U.S. Army with a mission statement being, “To motivate young people to be better citizens.” But what does it mean to be a better citizen? Further, how does this extend to your Education?
The Primary appeal JROTC offers is discipline and responsibility. 1st Sergeant Doughtery, the Senior Army Instructor for the Patriot Battalion and a 24-Year Army Veteran who served with the Historic 82nd Airborne said, “[Routines] set the standard for the discipline. My highest priority, as it ensures security for the day. If your day is out of step you will be as well”. JROTC provides Cadets with ample opportunities to build a routine and schedule for themselves and to maintain a standard and look of total professionalism and self-discipline that they are held to. Whether it is Uniform Wear, Drill and Ceremony, Physical Training, or even something as simple as a shaven face or keeping your hair in regulation, discipline, and responsibility over oneself is a core part of JROTC as a whole.
That said, responsibility is very important as well, especially in regard to physical appearance and fitness. It is one thing to make sure to wear the uniform in order to show respect for the service and its personnel, it is another to make sure that you take care of yourself and be physically fit. When asked about how important it is to be physically fit he says it is his “top priority” and that “when you are more physically fit you are more mentally alert”. His thoughts are not far off from fact either, according to the Mayo Clinic the benefits of exercise and general physical fitness are more than just physical: “Exercise helps prevent and improve several health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety, and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety”. First Sgt. had a point and physical fitness provides an excellent basis for students who have problems with issues such as low self-esteem or anxiety by giving Cadets a basis of physical health.
Another very large appeal for people to join JROTC is the incentivizing of teamwork. Within the Military as a whole, being able to work with others and be a team player is of major importance to operational integrity, as well as guiding personnel to work under the best conditions possible. The same concept applies to JROTC on a similar level. When asked about why teamwork is an essential part of the program Staff Sergeant Westling, the new Army Instructor for the Patriot Battalion and a 20-year Army Veteran, responded with “teamwork teaches discipline and comradery. It allows your team to move towards a shared goal or aspiration both in the Battalion and outside of it”. Whether it is working with the chain of command, doing a team-based activity, or simply working together with others, JROTC offers students the chance to interact with a group of their peers in settings that allow a joint effort to complete.
Now to some, all of these things are not enough for people to do JROTC, and that is where the biggest benefits come to light: Job and College opportunities. JROTC is something that is a big attention grabber on Job and College Applications, as well as both the Military Enlistment and Commission Opportunities; this is since JROTC originates as a Leadership Course and showcases leadership and general development skills that aid in the everyday circuit of society. For Colleges and Military Academies, JROTC shows them that they are eager to commit and participate in leadership opportunities and that they are able and willing to put themselves in tense, new, or unfamiliar situations and to develop through them. For an everyday Job Application, JROTC shows them that they can extensively push themselves in demanding situations, are great at working with others, can take charge if necessary, and display general confidence. There are also benefits if you plan to enlist into the U.S Military, with a rise in pay grade and rank for every year spent in JROTC; this means that if you are in JROTC for all 4 years of your high school career you will not only get rewards and benefits in the program but in your Military career as well with extended leadership opportunities and payment. All of these benefits are core aspects of JROTC and are both taught and given to Cadets upon completion and participation.
In short, JROTC offers students and cadets the opportunity to excel in multiple fields involving personal and educational growth. All of the topics of discussion from teamwork to benefits aid in the continuous progression forward of making better citizens out of Students and Cadets.