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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 2, 2023

Coast Guard is expanding nationwide JROTC program 

By Cmdr. Clay R. Cromer, JROTC Program Manager

The Coast Guard will be establishing four new Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) units for the 2023-2024 school year, bringing the national total to 10. The new units will be located at Saraland High School in Saraland, Alabama; Aspira Business and Finance High School in Chicago; Clinton High School in Clinton, Mississippi; and Mission Bay High School in San Diego.

“Expanding JROTC to four new high schools across three additional Coast Guard districts will greatly enhance the program’s visibility and impact”, said Rear Adm. Megan Dean, Director of Governmental and Public Affairs. “This is a youth outreach program that provides personal and citizenship development at a time when students need it most. As cadets progress through the program, they come to fuller understanding of service in general and our service in particular. The benefits for our schools, communities, service, and nation as a whole are more important now than ever.”

As awareness of and interest in the program continue to increase, the Coast Guard saw the JROTC applicant pool more than double this past year. The 2023 expansion is the largest the program has ever seen, and is the first time the program has ever established more than two units in a single year. 

The goal of the expansion is to invest in young people and encourage active and dedicated citizenship. Coast Guard JROTC is a youth outreach program with the mission of “developing service-minded citizens of character.” The program emphasizes developing cadets on the “COAST”—an acronym for the program’s pillars of Citizenship, Operations, Advancement, Service, and Teamwork. As cadets progress through the program, they develop the knowledge, skills, and attitude to be better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges, while also gaining exposure to the possibility of serving their country nobly in the Coast Guard or other military branches.

The enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 in December 2022 provided clear direction for the program’s future—the Coast Guard must establish and maintain a JROTC unit in every Coast Guard district by Dec. 31, 2025. At present, JROTC units are only located in Districts 5 and 7. This year’s expansion will add Districts 8, 9, and 11 as well.

To participate in JROTC, students must be in grades nine-12, with some exceptions for eighth graders. 
They must be citizens, nationals of the United States, or those lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence; 

  • Be physically fit;
  • Maintain acceptable standards of scholastic achievement and an academic standing that warrants at least normal progression leading to graduation; and 
  • Maintain acceptable conduct and grooming standards.

In addition to four levels of maritime science academic courses, the cadets have ample opportunities to hone and exercise leadership, fitness, discipline, and community service through a variety of extracurricular opportunities such as color guard, athletic competitions, the air rifle team, summer camps, and local community events.

There are currently about 500 cadets in the Coast Guard JROTC program in six high schools from Florida to Delaware. This past year, the program has received a warm reception at its new locations of Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware, and Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina. Between five and six percent of the students at each school are enrolled in the program. At the Coast Guard’s longest-standing units in Miami and Camden, North Carolina, 10% of the student body is enrolled.

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