The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is a four-year program that was a result of the National Defense Act of 1916. America was preparing for World War I and needed a steady stream of qualified male teenage candidates that could enlist into military service as Soldiers and officers in the U.S. Army. The program served the needs of the nation and various communities so well that it continued on and is still going strong today.
Under the 1964 Vitalization Act, Congress expanded the Army JROTC program to include all military branches – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. At this time, Congress also authorized the replacement of active duty personnel that served as instructors with retired military service personnel from active duty and the Reserves and National Guard instead. The next biggest change occurred in 1973 when women were given the opportunity to participate in JROTC programs.
The stated mission of JROTC is “motivating young people to be better citizens.” The vision of this Congress-mandated program is “to provide quality leadership, character, and leadership development, while fostering partnerships with communities and educational institutions.”
Many students think JROTC is a military-preparation program, but as you can see, its mission and vision doesn’t state that. Since the beginning, the purpose of the JROTC program has been to teach cadets leadership, geography, civics, health, global awareness, life skills and U.S. history. With this focus on leadership, core values, abilities and self-discipline, cadets are better positioned to function in life itself, even if they never go into the military.