Adina Mayo – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- “JROTC’s mission statement is ‘to motivate young people to become better citizens’,” said LRHS Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadet major Kendyl Brahler, senior. “We just use military structure as a system to do that.”
Brahler has been in the school’s JROTC program since her freshman year. Although she is currently ranked cadet major, by the end of the year she will earn the rank cadet lieutenant colonel (LTC), the rank associated with the battalion commander (BC) position.
“I had heard all about JROTC from a friend and her family in eighth-grade, but I was only mildly interested,” commented Brahler. “At the orientation, I talked to the BC at that time. She told me about all the leadership opportunities the program has, and I knew I had to join.”
Becoming the BC has been a goal for Brahler since her freshman year.
“I knew that this was the job I wanted because the BC I met at the orientation was so supportive and influential to me,” Brahler said. “She was my role model, and I knew I wanted to fill her shoes and do the same for others.”
The responsibilities Brahler has as the BC aren’t easy by any means, “I must supervise and keep track of everything in the battalion. I need to be the example for the battalion and provide guidance.”
Many students outside of the JROTC program have the same misunderstandings about the program, and, at first, Brahler shared these ideas.
“People think that this program is trying to get you to join the military, and that is 100% not that case,” Brahler said. “We educate you about the military, but if you decide that’s not the route you want to take, that’s okay. Most of the students in our program don’t go into the service.”
Brahler continued, “Another misconception is that all we do in JROTC is march and do physical training (PT), but that’s not the case either. Class lessons cover a large variety of topics that help you become a better citizen, and we do hands-on activities, including first aid and team building.”
There are a lot of students who dislike the idea of wearing the JROTC uniform, but it’s a very serious responsibility in the program.
“We represent more than just ourselves in it; We represent the military. For most people, we’re the only ‘soldier’ they’ll ever see,” stated Brahler. “We always want to make sure to represent well.”
The JROTC program has helped Brahler in more ways than one throughout her three years in the program.
“The program has helped me make friends, build self-confidence, and develop my leadership skills,” said Brahler. “It’s hard to find your clique in high school, but the great thing about JROTC is that there all types of students who enroll in the program.
There are many JROTC programs in the county, and across the country, but the LRHS program has something unique.
“We have fewer resources, but what sets us apart is LRHS’ JROTC instructor Lt. Col. [Richard] Roller,” said Brahler. “He puts his heart and soul into this program, even if he doesn’t admit it. Ever since he got here, this program has only improved, and I’ve seen it myself over the years I’ve been here.”
Brahler plans to join Army ROTC at the University of Tampa (UT)
“By doing ROTC, you commission into the military as an officer instead of as an enlisted soldier,” explained Brahler. “I chose UT because I am committed to play softball there, as well.”
Brahler’s experience with the LRHS JROTC program has changed her life. “I wouldn’t be who I am today without this program and all the people in it,” said Brahler.
“I encourage those who are on the fence about it to join the program, at least for one year,” Brahler continued. “If you don’t like it, just don’t come back; there won’t be any hard feelings, but if you never join, you could be missing out on something amazing and life-changing.”