ROTC: Giving Back to the Community
Every year, each company in the JROTC program at John Horn High School organizes and executes a service learning project, which is an extensive, entirely cadet-run community service project.
“Our mission is to motivate young adults to be better citizens… that includes service to the community. We want them to be confident about being able to serve others and to be able to do well for themselves, and not just be a part of the system, but be there to help improve the system,” Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Burton Jr., Retired said.
Service learning projects directly correlate to the JROTC mission statement because they require the cadets to take initiative and control of almost the whole entire project. Although the company commanders and first sergeant cadets propose what their company is going to do for their service learning project, every cadet in the company is expected to contribute. Service learning projects place the cadets directly into the community, interacting with marginalized people in an effort to improve their quality of life. Not only are the cadets getting to know their community, but the community is provided an opportunity to learn about the JROTC program at John Horn High School.
“From the service learning projects, I’ve definitely learned that I’m a blessed person. There are people out there that are so without, and my problems are really minor when compared to the standings of other people’s lives… there are a lot more people out there that need help other than myself… I think it’s kind of helped me grow and motivated me to help more when I can,” Battalion Commander Hailey Strange said.
As a general consensus, the cadets and officers who have participated in service learning projects have found the events to be humbling experiences that bring them a feeling of satisfaction linked to giving back to others and that give them a desire to do more for their community.
“The most exciting thing about service learning projects is the fact that some people who have never experienced an act of service are going to get that really satisfying feeling for the first time of helping someone. Because a lot of the times, people don’t really understand the value of community service,” Battalion Commander Strange said.
Being in the JROTC program gives cadets ample opportunity to grow in their community and as a person, giving them experiences that they would not normally get through other classes and organizations and putting them, as individuals, in terms of rest of society and what they can do to better it, along with themselves.
“One of the best things about the service learning project is that it opens up the eyes of the cadets and the community hand in hand. We get to go and experience what the Mesquite community is really about. We get to actually experience all of the people within our community… It allows the community to see that ROTC isn’t just a program used to militarize kids, which is one of the common misconceptions. They get to see that ROTC is about making the young people that are in the program better citizens for the community, not just for the military,” Battalion Logistics and Supply Officer (S4) Kaden Callahan said.
Because JROTC is closely related to the military, people often fall into the myth that JROTC is purely military. Service learning projects not only dispel the misconception that the program is unbearably difficult work and training, but they also teach others that JROTC instills values such as selflessness and humility in the cadets under the program.