To the editor:
The letter from Mr. Mark Larson, published in your paper on Nov. 28, outlining the negative effects of JROTC demands a reply and some corrections.
First, I am not sure where Mr. Larson gathered his information from a general reading of problems facing our high school students or from statistics obtained from a reliable source?
Working with the Association of the United States Army and the ROTC for nearly 10 years, I know the purpose of the program is to develop confidence, leadership and teamwork in young people; to teach citizenship to high school students and provide them with mentors (retired military leaders of impeccable character).
Major Arthur DeGroat, professor of military science at Kansas State University recently discussed the overall ROTC program. He emphasized the following programs reach motivated youths as well as "at-risk" youths. Over 230,000 high school students participate each year; as of September 2000, JROTC programs are introduced at 1,420 high schools across the nation.
While Mr. Larson is concerned about JROTC students leaders and I quote "becoming gang leaders," it is unacceptable to put the blame on the program. As a former educator, I know that our students respond to support and proper teaching and that includes, above all, respect and discipline. If encouraged to reach for the best, i.e. better grades, and better attendance, they are given the tools to selfesteem, therefore to success in the future.
On July 30, 2000, Louis Caldera, Secretary of the Army, said: "At a time when so many are concerned about what is happening in our high schools, the Army is committed to making a positive difference."
"JROTC is a social bargain. Students get a taste of discipline and the work ethic, and experience pride in membership," said Gen. (retired) Colin Powell.
Students are under no obligation to join the program. Those who chose to become members of JROTC may be the same young students who later on will contribute to a more solid society. Let's give them a chance before passing judgment.
Francine M. Hines,
State President for Kansas AUSA,