Stay or Go?
by Jeff Bell
The federal government has initiated several budget cuts nationwide, but one in particular impacts students close to home. The Parkersburg High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) is scheduled to dissolve at the end of the year. According to Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Smith, with decreasing interest and enrollment, the Department of the Navy has decided the PHS NJROTC program is just not cost effective. “We need to show the Navy just how valuable this relatively cheap program is. Just one F-18 demonstration flight could keep this program open for an additional eight years,” Smith said.
WVU Parkersburg Veterans Corps members attended the community support rally held March 14 on the front lawn of PHS. “It’s very important to show our complete support, sign the petitions and talk with the people involved,” John Wilson, veteran work study, said.
The meeting is simply another step in the long process of saving this program. “We are going to follow the old saying, ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil,’ and we are going to be as squeaky as we can be,” Ralph Board, PHS principal, said. “The cadets love the program; the programs loves PHS and PHS loves this program,” Board said. Several politicians either sent representatives or attended. Todd Anderson, representative from Senator Manchin’s office read a letter from Manchin addressing the PHS NJROTC cadets and supporters. “I am in complete support of this NJROTC program and have sent a letter to the Department of the Navy on your behalf,” Anderson read.
Parkersburg Chief of Police Joseph Martin represented the City of Parkersburg in voicing concern for the loss of this program. “You guys need to work hard promoting and recruiting yourselves. You can save this program by showing the Navy the support this program can have. Increase your numbers and increase your value,” Martin said.
To support the NJROTC program, students can write several political offices: 1. The Honorable Jay Rockefeller, United States Senate, 531 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-4802; 2. The Honorable Joe Manchin, United States Senate, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-4801; 3. Honorable Ray Mabus, Office of the Secretary of the Navy, 2000 Navy Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20350-2000
"We need to support these students in every way that we can. Remember, freedom is never free," Wilson said.