We’ve had all kinds of campaigns for funds for worthy causes, but never one like this. Washington Chapter 324 of the Korean War Veterans Association has mounted a drive to raise money for the new Naval Junior ROTC program that will begin next school year at Washington High School.

You might say, why doesn’t the Navy provide the uniforms? Cutbacks in funding for our military branches have prevented the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Maritime Service from conducting some of the programs they were able to do in the past. The Navy has agreed to begin the program at WHS but the school district will be required to finance more of the program than was necessary at other high schools in the past. The district has to provide the facilities, qualified instructors with military experience, and to pay at least part of the cost of uniforms.

The Korean War veterans, realizing the importance of this program to our young people, decided to lead a fund drive to help pay for the uniforms. It costs $250 to outfit a student with the necessary uniforms. A goal of $25,000 was set. The donations will go to the school district earmarked for uniforms. A mailing was sent out last week seeking donations. Actually, any size donation will be appreciated. The veterans hope to receive a number of donations in the amount of $250. And, of course, the veterans are hopeful even larger donations will be received.

It is not known how many students will participate in the program. Eventually, it is hoped there will be 100 students in the program from both WHS and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. It’s an optional program for males and females. The program’s purpose is not to train the students for a military career although some may join one of the branches of service after high school. If a student goes on to college and enrolls in ROTC, or joins the military, the program will give them a jump-start.

The intent of Junior ROTC is to teach leadership skills, citizenship, and discipline to aim the students in the direction of responsible citizenship to serve their country and local communities. The program matures students rather quickly.

The program is not for every student. But experience has shown that Junior ROTC has motivated students to change their lifestyles for the better. For some, it even has been a “life-saver” as to their future. Junior ROTC has turned lives around and has enriched students with values they didn’t have before.

Donations are to be sent to Washington High School, Junior ROTC, Administration Building, 220 Locust St., Washington, MO 63090. Donations are tax deductible.

This is a very worthwhile endeavor!