Recently, I came across an article titled “These Grannies Are Helping to Plug the School-to-Military Pipeline at Its Source,” which highlights a recent protest in NYC. The group protesting is called the Granny Peace Brigade, which, despite the comical name, is a real group that opposes all things related to war. During this protest they took a stance against the hiring of veterans to teach JROTC and the very existence of the JROTC altogether.

The author of the article takes the subject a bit further, basically shaming the existence of JROTC, and paints the picture of it as an outdated and predatory organization that preys upon poverty-stricken youth. She even seems to be against teaching the military core values to the students. When did instilling core values like courage, honor, and sacrifice become a bad thing? The article suggests that the military recruiters stalk the hallways:

Touting the benefits and “educating” students on the importance of service have become the primary strategies that recruiters use to persuade young men and women to enlist. They emphasize themes like glory, honor, courage, purpose, and sacrifice, but it is often the promise of free college, stable employment, career development, healthcare, life insurance, and upward mobility that persuade people to sign on the dotted line.

Although JROTC claims to be separate from recruitment and exists “to motivate young people to be better citizens” (according to the Army’s official JROTC website), the textbooks used in classes specifically promote the military as a career option and mold young participants to adopt the ideals, perspectives, and attitudes needed to serve in the military. The program’s methods have proven quite effective: An estimated 40 percent of students enrolled in JROTC programs decide to enlist in the military after graduation.

I will probably get quite a bit of comments stating that it is their 1st Amendment right to speak out, which is great, and I am glad that they are taking full advantage of their rights. Even though I was never in JROTC, looking at the issue as a parent of three young boys, I wanted to pose a counterargument. JROTC strives to be a great organization that not only teaches core values, but it can also provide teenagers structure, realistic goals, stability, and leadership skills that may not be found in other school curriculum. JROTC can physically and mentally test their limits. It can encourage them to find out who they are and what they are capable of. When did encouraging teenagers to become independent and problem-solving adults become a problem? I know that is one of my overall goals for my boys.

What about those boys and girls who desire to be Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, or Sailors? Being in the military shouldn’t be looked down upon. It is an opportunity to serve and is a viable option for many people that want to learn a trade or skill but do not necessarily want to attend college. Wouldn’t it be better to find out if a person does not like the military lifestyle in JROTC instead of finding out after they’ve signed an actual military contract? JROTC is not archaic or a program that preys on those less fortunate. JROTC is an elective class just like FFA (Future Farmers of America). Protesting JROTC for forcing kids into the military is like protesting FFA for forcing people to become farmers.

Reading the article, it seems that the major underly problem are their feelings towards war itself. Ignoring the need for a fighting force is not an option for America. Like it or not, this generation will eventually have to pick up where the military heroes of today leave off and be prepared take up arms to defend our nation.

Image courtesy of Leavenworth Times