" To Motivate Young People to Be Better Citizens "
SSG James Akins, Jr.,
U. S. Army, Retired Army Instructor
The United States Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) came into being with the passage of the National Defense Act of 1916. Under the provisions of the Act, high schools were authorized the loan of federal military equipment and the assignment of Active Duty military personnel as instructors. In 1964, the Vitalization Act opened JROTC up to the other services and replaced most of the active duty instructors with retirees who worked for and were cost shared by the schools.
Title 10 of the U.S. Code declares that "the purpose of Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps is to instill in students in United States Secondary Educational institutions the value of citizenship, service to theUnited States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment."
The JROTC Program has changed greatly over the years. Once looked upon primarily as a source of enlisted recruits and officer candidates, it became a citizenship program devoted to the moral, physical and educational uplift of American youth. Although the program retained its military structure and the resultant ability to infuse in its student cadets a sense of discipline and order, it shed most of its early military content.
The study of ethics, citizenship, communications, leadership, life skills and other subjects designed to prepare young men and woman to take their place in adult society, evolved as the core of the program. More recently, an improved student centered curriculum focusing on character building and civic responsibility is being presented in every JROTC classroom.
JROTC is a continuing success story. From a modest beginning of 6 units in 1916, JROTC has expanded to 1645 schools today and to every state in the nation and American schools overseas. Cadet enrollment has grown to 281,000 cadets with 4,000 professional instructors in the classrooms. Comprised solely of active duty Army retirees, the JROTC instructors serve as mentors developing the outstanding young citizens of our country.
THE JROTC DOZEN
- RELATE TO THE MISSION. “To motivate young people to be better citizens.” Understand that our mission works both ways: the cadre works towards cadets and the high school student body, and the cadets as well work towards their fellow cadets and the students. The cadet battalion must set an example for the entire high school. This mission is an enormous responsibility.
- LOVE CADETS LIKE SOLDIERS. This is a must for all JROTC personnel. We must care for our cadets. At the same time, a disciplined environment must be maintained in the cadet battalion. This is not boot-camp discipline, but rather a caring environment that motivates high school students forward in their quest to be productive citizens in our great nation.
- KNOW THE DEVIL IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETAILS. Do not let your battalion fall apart because of sloppy administration.
- BECOME AN INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL. Let all teachers and administrators know that you are a proud part of the high school. You will find that there is a host of tasks you can perform for your school, from presenting the colors to conducting VIP tours. Make the principal proud of the cadet battalion.
- KNOW THE CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR COMMUNITY. This will make your battalion more effective because you will understand what makes your community tick. If possible, join a service club. Become a fully integrated part of your town.
- BE PROFICIENT IN THE TRADITIONAL ACTIVITY OF JROTC, CLOSE ORDER DRILL. This will strike up an immediate rapport with cadets.
- COMPETE TO WIN. Whether the competition is an internal or external drill competition or Cadet Challenge, cadets must do their best. At the same time, inculcate your cadets with the values of good sportsmanship.
- ADOPT AN ELEMENTARY OR MIDDLE SCHOOL. Have cadets teach the young students how to honor and raise the colors. Conduct classes on Winning Colors. This program provides excellent training for cadets, and at the same time, begins the citizenship motivation for a younger generation of students who will in time join JROTC.
- CONCENTRATE LIKE A LASER BEAM ON SERIOUS STUDENT PROBLEMS SUCH AS TEENAGE PREGNANCY AND DRUGS. Don’t sweep these issues under the rug. They must be confronted with all the dedication and discipline mixed with compassion that we can muster to provide a promising future for our cadets.
- INSURE THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE CADET BATTALION GRADUATE. High school drop-outs have become a serious national problem. Statistics indicate that if students fail to graduate from high school, their potential to be productive citizens is extremely limited. JROTC stands for educated citizenship.
- ALWAYS MAINTAIN TOP STANDARDS OF APPEARANCE AND CONDUCT. We who work with the youth of America must always set a shining example.
- OPERATE AS A COHESIVE TEAM. The success of JROTC rests largely on the effectiveness of JROTC cadet battalions. These must be outstanding organizations. All cadre personnel must work together and be friends as well as professional colleagues. The accomplishment of the cadet battalion mission is essential to the overall success of JROTC.