The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps & National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
With Honor Action is the main effort I am working alongside to see JROTC dramatically expanded across our nation. This is one of the best bipartisan actions we can take to positively impact young lives in public schools, and I’m convinced with With Honor’s active leadership that we can get it done.
Senator Roger Wicker
Mikie Sherrill and Mike Gallagher
For Country Caucus members Representatives
Among its other effects, the coronavirus pandemic has eroded the quality of education across the country, especially in disadvantaged rural and urban communities, where young people long for purpose-driven futures. [The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] and similar programs like the Young Marines are promising means to empower young Americans with strong civic education and a commitment to serve others, in or out of uniform.
For over three years, members of the congressionally-mandated National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service met with Americans across the country, exploring the appetite for service and identifying barriers to service. Inspired by the life of the late-Senator John McCain, leaders on the Armed Services Committee, Senators Jack Reed and Jim Inhofe, worked to establish this Commission to recommend steps to increase service opportunities for all Americans. The Commission made 49 recommendations to bolster national service and civic education. With Honor Action and members of the For Country Caucus have since worked to pass a number of these recommendations, including those related to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).
For some of the over half-million high school-aged participants, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is the first step to uniformed service; but for all, it is a crucial course in civic education and leadership. That is why With Honor Action worked with the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and the leadership of the For Country Caucus to introduce the Inspire to Serve Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation led by founding For Country Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Jimmy Panetta and Don Bacon that would usher in a new era of public service and deliver much-needed modifications and expansions to the JROTC program.
At the end of 2020, With Honor Action and the bipartisan members of the For Country Caucus successfully passed into law an expansion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the JROTC program. The provision, co-led by For Country Caucus members Representatives Anthony Brown, Chrissy Houlahan, and Mike Waltz, authorized new grant programs to increase the training of JROTC students in STEM fields and subsequent legislation included $13 million in funding for JROTC programs to carry out the new curriculum.
With Honor Action continued to advocate for the JROTC expansion and in 2022, worked with then-For Country Caucus Co-Chair Representative Don Bacon to pass the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Expansion Act which tasked the Department of Defense with developing a plan to expand the JROTC program to ensure greater access in rural, low-income, and historically underserved communities. In the Senate, With Honor Action was proud to support a provision led by Senator Roger Wicker in the National Defense Authorization Act that addressed the instructor shortage by expanding eligibility for military retirees to serve as JROTC instructors while requiring an honorable discharge after at least eight years of service.
As Congress continues work on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, With Honor Action was pleased to see the inclusion of several key provisions relating to the JROTC program. In the House version, Representative Mike Waltz was able to secure passage of two provisions which would allow veterans to utilize the Troops-To-Teachers program to become JROTC instructors and the alignment of retirement pay scales for current JROTC instructors. In the Senate, Senator Roger Wicker led a significant legislative effort to expand the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps from 3,275 existing units up to 4,000.
Read more about With Honor Action’s work to strengthen and expand the Junior Reserve Officers’ Corps in this Fortune op-ed, featuring For Country Caucus members Representatives Mike Gallagher and Mikie Sherrill. You can learn more about the impact of JROTC in this in-depth national study conducted by RAND.
Watch JROTC Student Interviews Below
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