I was gratified to see the article about Douglas High School Jr. ROTC by Dave Price on the cover of the Feb. 21 newspaper. I hope it will inform people and clear up any remaining misconceptions about the program. As the person who started the program at Douglas in 2007 (I am still listed as an instructor on the Jr. ROTC page), I faced some opposition early on from people who thought that Jr. ROTC was about turning students into soldiers, and that it was nothing more than a brainwashing scam. I am proud to say that I and my fellow instructor at the time were able to quickly turn that notion around and demonstrate that Jr. ROTC is about building character, encouraging excellence, and developing leaders. We became an integral part of the school and the community, making a positive impact in both areas. Students became cadets, and learned discipline, self-reliance, self-respect and respect for others, and communication skills. Many cadets have gone on to military service, but many more have gone on to Western Nevada College and University of Nevada, Reno, to pursue further education. It’s not about recruiting for the military: it’s about helping students succeed in life.
Too many parents and other community members still have their doubts, but those doubts are unfounded. Jr. ROTC is about encouraging every student to become the best person he or she can be, and giving everyone a chance to learn, to grow and to thrive. I hope that parents will allow and even encourage their children to join the Jr. ROTC program and see what a benefit it can be. Talk to parents whose kids have gone through the program, and learn just how much it can do for young people. With classroom activities supplemented by a variety of extracurricular activities and many teams to accommodate a wide range of interests, Jr. ROTC is one of the best courses offered at Douglas High School.
Army strong, Tiger proud!
Master Sgt. Gary M. Collier
U.S. Army, Ret.