JROTC teaches leadership, AF core values

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***As Master Sgt. Maxine van der Kaap listened to three Junior Officer Reserve Training Corps cadets describe the year they had in the program, her smile widened.

She was proud.

At ages 16 and 17, they each had been leaders in the JROTC program and in their school, Ramstein American High School. They had been decision-makers, tutors and community volunteers. And when they graduate in 2007, it doesn’t matter what path they take – college, workforce or military service –
they will be ready, Sergeant van der Kaap said.
“We are about helping young people become better citizens,” said Sergeant van der Kaap, RAHS aerospace science instructor.

With 146 cadets, Ramstein’s JROTC program is the largest Air Force JROTC in Europe. Kaiserslautern American High School also has a strong program with about 80 cadets. As the school year ends, both programs are celebrating a year’s worth of accomplishments and are already looking forward to fall, and new recruits.

“You get a sense of accomplishment,” said Jayci Cachuela, 17, cadet major in Ramstein’s JROTC. She is part of a team of cadets who speaks to middle school students about JROTC in hopes of recruiting students for next school year. “A lot of (employers) look favorably on JROTC because here we develop leadership skills.”

This month, Ramstein and Kaiserslautern cadets, and their families, gathered to celebrate the year’s work. Dozens of national and local awards were presented at their individual awards banquets.

Being a cadet in JROTC can advance the career of a new military servicemember, Sergeant van der Kaap said. A student in JROTC three or more years could be promoted to E3 and possibly bypass some basic training instruction, she said. Cadets stand on drill and ceremony. They march and they work on team building. And, she said, they are focused on the three Air Force Core Values: “Integrity,” “Service before self” and “Excellence in all we do.”

“One of the benefits of JROTC is a chance to develop personal character,” said Cadet Lt. Col. Adam Robinson, 16, who wants to attend the Air Force Academy to study aeronautical engineering. “(JROTC) made me a better communicator.”

The JROTC structure mirrors the Air Force, with its squadrons, group commanders, operations commanders and operations support. Students, like Robinson, apply for leadership positions.

About 80 percent of the JROTC youth will go on to college. Cadet Maj. Kylie Robillard, 16, joined JROTC three years ago to build leadership skills, she said, in preparation for college and medical school.

“When you are involved in a lot of leadership positions, you learn to cope with deadlines,” she said. “I think it will help me in college.”

Col. Leon  Stamm, Kaiserslautern JROTC instructor, said cadets have an opportunity to participate in military ceremonies around the KMC. They go on educational trips, including going to Normandy. “Throughout the school year, cadets can expect to learn how to become better citizens that includes leadership, responsibility, determination, self-motivation, discipline and integrity,” Colonel Stamm said. “By participating in the JROTC program, a cadet gains a greater amount of respect towards the United States and develops skills that last a lifetime.”