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Junior ROTC Cadet Scholarship

Jennovia Mais, a senior at Truman High School has been selected by our Chapter to receive a $500 college scholarship on Veterans Day

Jennovia's Winning Essay

A veteran to me is a person who has courage, resilience, honor, and sacrificed in serving his/her country. I have learnt that the reason for the  rigorous nature of the military, at least from a civilian point of view, is for the purpose of  making you into soldiers because you’re no longer a civilian. Because you fall under a whole new system called the UCMJ. You’ve given up certain things you can get away with as a civilian, rather than being in the military. It tests your mental and physical strength. 

I think veteran itself spells out its meaning. V is for victory. Not because of the many victories our veterans have achieved in the name of freedom, but also because of the victories military families and the American people have won together to make this country secure. We salute the soldiers who fought and made it back home alive, and also to the ones that didn’t. You’re gone but not forgotten, but a void is left behind. That’s why victory at home is as important as victory on the battlefield.

E is for encouragement. Since migrating, I've been inspired by the  American veterans. The veterans I've randomly and casually come across in my daily life and all have been an inspiration to me to do better because of the sacrifices they made for me to live the life I live today. As a JROTC Cadet, the encouragement I get from my family, instructors and unit also helps me to be better and do better. 

T is for tough. No matter how many times they served, which time they served, or what position or job they had, there is always a sense of toughness in all veterans. They have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether it was in the trenches in World War 1, or braving powerful sandstorms in the deserts of Southwest Asia during Operation Desert storm or Operation Iraqi Freedom, they persevered.

E is for educate. Veterans, whether past or present, are among our best educators. For many vets, their service doesn’t end when they leave the service. The military can change a soldier whether negatively or positively. For one, it can increase their humanity. The feeling to laugh, cry or empathize. Veterans are deeply respected by the older generations, but for younger generations like myself; there’s only a few that are inspired and passionate about the Armed Forces. The competition for the service academies has declined and in response the numbers (standards) are lowered and the veterans are hired to become instructors to encourage and educate the community.

R is for recognition. Someone told me that veterans are seen differently depending on the generation. In the older generation it is well respected and appreciated. But in my generation, the younger generation, it’s not intentional, but there is a level of disrespect. For example, the pledge of allegiance is recited/played everyday, but the number of people who stand to  recite can be counted on one hand. That’s how small, even though in 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, West Virginia V. Barnette, determined that no school or government can compel someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag. If it weren’t for JROTC, I wouldn’t know the pledge of allegiance nor its importance. So it’s not that simple to blame the generation, but let's focus on bringing awareness of saluting. That is showing respect.

A is for appreciation. This carries over from recognition. While they are not that appreciated in schools or younger generations, there is no uncertainty that military veterans aren’t appreciated in America. For example, I would wear my uniform on wednesdays. I would be walking and random people who are driving in the middle of traffic, standing on the sidewalk, or just walking along the sidewalk saying, “Thank you for your service”. I used to tell them that I didn’t serve and that this was just JROTC, but recently, even though I’m still not a veteran I still accept it because the uniform I’m wearing embodies and brings awareness to the military, its veterans, past and present. Everytime I step out of school, I know I represent the Air Force, the military, my school and our unit. 

N is for necessary. The definition of necessary is the absolutely essential or required. The military in that regard is essential for America. It is at the forefront when it comes to protecting this country. The military is important for many reasons such as protecting the security and freedom of the country and its citizens. Upon commissioning, every American military officer swears an oath to “support and defend” this constitution. Without a military, we cannot properly protect our borders, nor can we help those allies to whom we have commitments to defend. If there was no military, it would be catastrophic. It would be a country with gangs, merchants and a self-regulated government. A country without a military or armed forces could be disastrous suffice to say.

To go from belonging to a community that fully understands and identifies with you to returning to a life where most people are unaware of all that comprises military life can make for a difficult transition for many veterans. Returning to civilian life and readjusting to the new normal can be challenging when few understand what veterans experienced during their service. As a civilian myself, I just don’t see an understanding of this within the civilian population.

Military brings together people from different cultures, colors and ethnicities. It provides the opportunities for men and women to travel the world and do things nobody has done before and see things some don’t have the luxury of seeing. Men and women have proudly served the country which they loved. We might join the military for different reasons. Whether to find a purpose in life,  to just make money, to pay for college, to work and send money back home, there is that deep sense of dedication and service to something greater than yourself. As my instructor said, he needed a purpose in life. What exactly is a veteran? Someone transformed by the life of service. And that is what I want; to have the opportunity to better myself, because the military will only make you a better person. Additionally, becoming a veteran would be an honor.

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