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Impact Of Junior ROTC
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Holder L. Biemeret
April 5, 2022

The Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps can be a significant stepping-stone for a high school student. When someone hears about JROTC, they might think that it is designed for cadets to join the military after they graduate high school. That is not always the case.

U.S. Marine Corps retired Capt. Juan J. Fernandez, the Senior Naval Science Instructor at G. Holmes Braddock High School, and his Navy Junior ROTC cadets plan for upcoming events at G. Holmes Braddock High School in Miami, Florida, March 10, 2022. After his 12 years of service in the Marine Corps, Fernandez found another way to serve his community as a Junior ROTC Instructor. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photos by Sgt. Holder L. Biemeret)JROTC is a citizen development program that prepares high school students for life beyond the classroom. Being a cadet provides numerous opportunities to develop leadership skills, self-confidence, and communication skills.

“The way these kids are going to carry and conduct themselves goes leaps and bounds when they apply for a scholarship and when they apply for a job,” said U.S. Marine Corps retired Capt. Juan J. Fernandez, the Senior Naval Science Instructor at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School. Fernandez has witnessed the transformation of his cadets first hand for the last 12 years as the Navy JROTC instructor.

After being in the program for two years, cadets are given the opportunity to step into leadership positions. At the lowest level of leadership, a cadet could be responsible for 10 other cadets, and at the highest level of leadership the cadet could be responsible for up to 80 of their fellow cadets. The amount of leadership experience these opportunities can grant them will put them ahead of their peers and set them up for the future. “It’s really rewarding seeing kids come in super shy, and three to four years later they are super confident in their abilities,” said Fernandez.

“We are developing a better citizen for our community,” said Fernandez. In the end, Fernandez’s primary goal is to develop a cadet in a way that will set them up for success and have an impact on them long after graduating from high school.

Fernandez holds his cadets to military standards and takes pride in how his cadets act and perform. “If I can produce a higher quality cadet that ends up being a higher quality poolee … that’s going to make a higher quality Marine or Sailor.”

If a student is interested in pursuing a career in the military, JROTC might be the perfect program for them. JROTC teaches cadets how to have a neat appearance, basic drill, how to conduct themselves in a professional manner, and basic military knowledge. “If they do join the military, it gives them a boost,” said Fernandez.

“You can see the difference in cadets versus other students,” said Sgt. Luis Acosta, a canvassing recruiter for Recruiting Sub-Station South Dade. The relationship allows there to be transparent communication with the cadets of the Bulldog Battalion and Acosta.

“He takes the kids and mentors them. He does what Marines do best, and that’s lead,” said Acosta. The leadership is taught from day one with cadets. They learn from their squad leaders, the cadet Command Master Chief, and all the way to Captain Fernandez and Navy Counselor First Class Martinez, who lead the program.

The knowledge cadets get while in the program gives them the information to see what is the best fit for them and their future, whether that is to join the military or not.

The passing of knowledge is something the Marine Corps strives to consistently do to prepare the future generations of our nation. Lt. Col. José L. Montalván, 6th Marine Corps District Readiness Operations Officer, was invited to be the inspecting officer for G. Holmes Braddock’s Annual Military Inspection. After the ceremony, Montalván addressed the cadets about leadership and his journey from being an immigrant to a Marine.

Not a lot of students in Miami-Dade County have knowledge about the Marine Corps. Having Lt. Col. Montalván, Capt. Fernandez and Sgt. Acosta in schools to teach students the foundations of leadership, share their story, and teach kids about the Marine Corps could impact their life no matter the path they chose upon graduating high school.

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