After reading the article in the Current Events section on JROTC [“Under Fire,” October 2005], I would like to know where Arlene Inouye—a language specialist—gets her information. My daughter is a level 2 cadet in the JROTC program at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio. Never has she been taught to use physical violence to solve a problem.
JROTC offers a place to belong for students who may be average performers. It offers a place for students to become part of a community rather than loners in an ever-expanding high school population. ... Currently, [my daughter] is ranked 42nd in the nation for marksmanship and carries a 96 average in academics. JROTC is not a hidden place for recruiters to sign up naive high school students. Quite the contrary, there is no expectation of any type of military service. Many students may make the decision to pursue a career in the military, but neither JROTC nor the U.S. armed forces require a cadet to serve a term after completing JROTC training.
JROTC offers the boundaries, discipline, and expectations that so many students are lacking because of lenient parents and poor-quality environments. I have never heard of a cadet being passed through classes when failing to stay eligible for his or her events. However, it is widely known that athletes and cheerleaders are socially passed for fear that parents will complain and that the school may not win its next game/competition.
It saddens me to know that parents and educators who have never experienced or even taken the time to research the program are willing to call for its dissolution. Since there is no requirement that students take at least one semester, I would suggest that Inouye and others who share her opinion do what I do when I don’t agree with what’s on television: Change the station. For the sake of our school systems and our country, find another cause and quit creating problems where none have existed.
San Antonio, Texas
As a drilling reservist with the U.S. Coast Guard, I’m deeply disappointed that groups such as CAMS portray the military as a violent entity poisoning our students. Not only is this attitude inflammatory; it’s also downright wrong. JROTC and other youth-oriented military programs serve as invaluable resources for students and parents seeking to enhance their education.
With the Iraq war occupying our collective consciousness and public support sagging, legitimate debates about the military’s role are needed. However, let’s not forget why CAMS is able to exercise its right to criticize. Let’s also not forget who enables this right: the men and women of the United States military. Many people who wax philosophical about the purpose of war tend to forget the enormous cost paid by soldiers—past and present—who made America a haven for free expression.
The military no more teaches violence to resolve problems than any local police academy. Violence in this context is a tool, not a mission. The Coast Guard, for example, occupies a unique role in today’s military, fulfilling humanitarian and war missions. I only wish I had the opportunity to enroll in a JROTC program while in high school.
Charles A. Nassar
Malow Junior High School
Shelby Township, Michigan
I teach Air Force JROTC at Lindhurst High School in northern California. Ms. Arlene Inouye [said] in the article that JROTC teaches students to use physical violence to solve problems. She continues to say JROTC teaches militarism in high schools. I have been with AFJROTC for 15 years, and [her comments] could not be further from the truth. Headquarters AFJROTC directs us as to our curriculum, and these topics are never taught at our school. AFJROTC educates students in leadership, discipline, teamwork, flag ceremonies, color guards, parades, and many other community-oriented topics. Citizenship and patriotism are the main themes of our AFJROTC program.
Master Sergeant David Miller
Lindhurst High School
As a proud parent of a graduate from St. Peter the Apostle High School’s Marine Corps JROTC program, as well as being actively involved on a daily basis with our cadet program for more than 11 years, I am appalled by the misconceptions and inaccuracies expressed by Arlene Inouye. Her claim of allowing “the military, which fights, and kills, and uses force, to come in and teach kids to use physical violence to solve problems” is definitely not part of our program. We do not act as recruiters, nor do we promote the use of physical violence! Rather, we strongly support and encourage our cadets to maintain good grades in all of their subjects, to be prepared for college and life in the real world.
Our cadets work together as a team in many different activities and challenges. [They] gain confidence, self-esteem, personal pride, and respect for themselves and others when they have successfully accomplished their goals.
Our program continually strives to instill in our cadets leadership, knowledge, courtesy, initiative, discipline of mind and body, awareness of personal capabilities in overcoming obstacles, a sense of accomplishment, good judgment, concern for others, character, honor, and integrity. We believe these qualities are important for young people, whether working in restaurants, on construction crews, or in professional offices or situations.
Our cadet color guard is frequently requested ... to honor our country by presenting our national colors. We also participate in the annual Toys for Tots campaign, a U.S. Marine Corps tradition (hardly a violent activity).
Our program is not one of playing “war games.” The comments and remarks of Ms. Inouye, together with members of CAMS, et cetera, have maligned and perpetrated a gross injustice to JROTC programs.
Unit Historian, MCJROTC
St. Peter the Apostle High School
New Brunswick, New Jersey
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 2006 edition of Teacher as Esprit de Corps