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President’s Perspective – Encouraging Military Service


President’s Perspective – Encouraging Military Service

COL Steve Bond, USA (Ret)

Last month, I participated in a MOAA-wide video-teleconference on support to Junior (High School) and Senior (College) ROTC programs.  There were about 85 participants in the call, including Chapter and State Council Presidents, along with MOAA leaders.  I learned several things.  First, MOAA national encourages, but doesn’t financially support ROTC programs.  They rely on the chapters to support these important programs for students, with the objective to produce better citizens at the high school level and outstanding junior officers at the college level.  As the meeting started, the moderator announced that he was going to calling on a few chapters he knew had great ROTC/JROTC programs to outline what they were doing for support.  Oh no I thought, I better be ready talk when they call on me!  

If you don’t know, we have some of the top High School JROTC programs in the country right here in Brevard County.  This is due to a group of outstanding instructors, a patriotic community, and the support we provide to those programs.  In the MOAA meeting, I thought about all the things we do to support the area’s ROTC/JROTC programs.  For example, we provide commissioning sets for newly commissioned officers from Florida Tech’s ROTC program and MOAA medals to outstanding Florida Tech and High School JROTC cadets.  We host cadets and recognize them at our luncheons. This year, our Good Deeds Foundation, provided $1,300 to each JROTC program for general support.  We offer our services, through our Veterans in the Class to teach classes.  We fund trophies for cadet competitions, bought computers for classroom support and other specialty equipment not provided by either the schools or their service support elements for the Raider Challenge obstacle course, marksmanship, and drill competitions.  We even funded a Raider Challenge obstacle course at the Veterans Memorial Center, so our area cadets don’t have to travel outside the county for competitions!

I wasn’t called on however--at least not initially.  As I listened to those that were, it was evident there is no other chapter that supports area ROTC & JROTC like we do!  After a couple of the “great” chapters/states gave their report, my “zoom” hand shot up and I did get called on.  I outlined all that we do and got several “thumbs up”.  When I finished, the moderator said, “the biggest challenge most chapters face is resources” (i.e., $$$) and noted we were one of the MOAA’s largest chapters.  One of the Chapter Presidents lamented that they only have 50 members and struggled to give $50 to cadet MOAA medal recipients.  Another chapter said they have 200 members but gave out several $1,000 scholarships to promising JROTC cadets for college.  I learned JROTC Scholarships are standard across the board and are often the only charitable giving done by many chapters.  There were other good ideas presented as well.

The common theme of the meeting was the need to encourage both patriotism and military service, regardless of the resources available.   While we are resource ‘blessed’, we do much, but can do more and different things.  One thing we are not doing is presenting promising, military inclined students with monetary awards.  While we gave out $50,000 in scholarship awards this year, yet none of the JROTC cadets getting ready to graduate from high school are eligible for those.  I have learned that other groups in our area like the Kiwanis and VMC offer scholarships to area JROTC students, and ROTC Scholarship recipients and Academy Appointees--I applaud them for doing this.  Why aren’t we doing this as well--After all, we are an organization of military officers--Why aren’t we doing even more to encourage young people to take the path we took?  Resources are always constrained, but we need to look at ways we can make lasting impacts.  Offering promising JROTC cadets with grant money is one way we can reward their interest and encourage military service.  At our recent Board of Directors meeting, we approved offering grants to JROTC MOAA award recipients, selected by their instructors, to help point them in the direction of military service.  You will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks, and we will need your support, in the form of charitable contributions to accomplish this task.    

I would appreciate your thoughts.  If you have comments or concerns email me at

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