One of the military's more beneficial training programs is the Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). This is a program begun in 1916, to encourage students to join the military, by giving them some exposure to the military while in high school. There are currently 3,400 JROTC programs, most of them army, with about half a million students enrolled (about 2.7 percent of all high school students). Courses are taught by retired military personnel. About 30 percent of those who complete the two or four year courses, eventually join the military. Those who do, are immediately promoted a rank once they complete basic training, and are expected to help guide other recruits during that training.
But JROTC cadets and their parents are finding that the biggest benefit of JROTC is to provide more structure for an often chaotic adolescence. The JROTC program demands discipline, particularly self-discipline. Cadets have to keep their grades up in order to remain in the JROTC. The course work covers basic military matters (marching, wearing and caring for uniforms, lots of information on the service their program belongs to) and non-military matters (civics, physical conditioning, and volunteer efforts to aid the community). About two thirds of the programs have marksmanship programs (often only with air guns).
With so few people going into the military, the Department of Defense sees the JROTC program as a way to keep the public familiar with what the military does, and how they do it. But for parents of high school students, JROTC is seen as one extracurricular program the keeps the kids focused, and out of trouble.