Emphasis in the program is placed on the development of individual leadership potential and citizenship. The program is entirely voluntary and carries no military service obligation.
Waukegan High School Yearbook, 1980
After Vietnam, JROTC emphasized its new purpose as a citizenship program. Unlike its early militaristic curriculum, the program began to encourage a broader knowledge of academics unrelated to army training. Recent textbooks cover historic events, writing skills, and health awareness instead of weaponry mechanics or tactics. Although ROTC itself remains an opportunity for students passionate about United States service, it is a course that now helps develop leadership potential, social skills, and enables cadets to gain college help.
Here among the instructor group, what we like to say is that we are trying to connect with students, to get students to graduate high school and go on to college or any post secondary education they want. In short, given a lot of communities that have ROTC, our real purpose is to save kids.
The purpose for JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens.
Claudia Freeman, a protester against the JROTC program during her high school years, tells her view of JROTC now.
Many students of low-income families in Waukegan find that ROTC scholarships make the difference in attaining a better education. However, in attending a college reserve students commit to serving as an officer in any of the military branches-- despite this obligation, the focus of the program is not centered on an "eagerness" for war. Waukegan's JROTC has become a motivational program that enables students to consider higher career possibilities as their leadership skills manifest. The program has marched upon a treacherous road since its beginning in 1916, changing with every step to become to program it is today.