The initial response in the first two weeks of the fund drive to pay for uniforms for the Junior Naval ROTC program that will begin next year at Washington High School has been encouraging. More than $10,000 has been raised toward the $25,000 goal.

The campaign is being waged by Washington Chapter 324 of the Korean War Veterans Association. Members of the chapter endorsed the ROTC program when it was brought to them because of the benefits to high school students. The optional program also is being offered to students at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. It is for boys and girls.

Junior ROTC programs for high school students are nothing new. They have been around for a half a century or longer. Pacific High School has a Marine Junior ROTC program while St. Clair High School has an Air Force unit. Both programs have been a continuing success.

Benefits of the program are many: The development of leadership skills; establishing discipline; and citizenship. The Junior ROTC programs are not directed at preparing students for a military career, although the training gives a person a head start if he or she does plan on a military career.

In the past, schools usually were provided uniforms. However, with the cutbacks given to the military that was not possible at this time. Uniforms cost $250 for each student. Knowing that for a student to come up with $250 would be difficult for many girls and boys, the Korean War Veterans decided to sponsor a uniform fund drive, and set a goal of $25,000. The Navy would like to see 100 students in the program. That may not happen the first year, but between the two high schools it should happen in a short time.

Both high schools are behind the program. The schools realize the benefits to students.

Any size donations will be accepted. The veterans know many people would like to give more, but their financial status does not permit larger gifts. Many of the veterans who are making donations know that because they are in the same financial condition. Others who can afford to give more are doing so. Gifts are tax deductible.

Military veterans are supporting the program because they know what serving in the military did for them. They realize the benefits, which are lasting. School officials also realize the benefits.