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Federal Way school district should expand military service programs | Letter
I hope the Federal Way Mirror will continue to be a vehicle for communicating issues expressed by concerned members of the community to generate thoughts from the community at large. Thank you very much for publishing my recent letter to you. Comments and concerns may become indicative of broadly supported views.
It seems opportune at this time following the Fourth of July holiday weekend to cite one point of interest expressed at recent public school board meetings. It is that the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program is not offered at all our high schools. We have very successful programs with the Air Force JROTC at Todd Beamer and Federal Way High School.
McChord Air Force Base being so close makes this a logical connection, however, we also have a strong regional connection to the Army at Fort Lewis and the Navy at Bremerton and Whidbey Island.
When we returned to Federal Way in 2012, the city had just been cited as an All American City under a regional award with Seattle. It seems appropriate for the Federal Way Public School District to expand their support to all the services through JROTC programs. JROTC offers one more set of ropes and ladders for students to latch onto and find a way up to success.
The programs offer leadership training, structure, self-discipline, and proven positive results on academic achievement and graduation rates.
The proximity of Joint Base Lewis McChord and our current connection to the Air Force ROTC makes for an easy choice to seek an Army ROTC regiment for either Thomas Jefferson or Decatur High School. The other could seek a Navy ROTC regiment. There is also a Marine Corps JROTC program.
If the community would be in support of such an initiative, the board could move quickly to get the schools in the queue with an application. Many costs are covered by the military, but there is some cost to run the program that must be supported in the budget.
There is a waiting list, but if we are not on it, then we will never get it. If we are on it, then our members in Congress might help move us up that list because the bases we have in the State of Washington support major military operations.
Some university campuses prohibit the military from recruiting on their campuses. I would be extremely surprised if the Federal Way community had an aversion to having a military JROTC presence in the other high schools, but I could also be wrong.
Expansion of the JROTC program has been raised at a number of public board meetings, but for reasons unknown to me, Federal Way Public Schools has not supported these requests.
It seems an easy step to take to help the success rate for our students by offering one more way to find their place in the world.
I have to believe there are plenty of community organizations, military families and veterans in Federal Way that would gladly help push the school district in the all American city of Federal Way to expand support to all the JROTC services.
Thank you for offering the opportunity to reach out to the community at large.
I hope the Federal Way Mirror proves to be a great forum for gauging where the community stands on areas for improvement across the school district.
Hiroshi Eto, Federal Way Public Schools board