Pentagon officials admitted on Wednesday that they did not adequately oversee JROTC. numerous veterans of the military teaching in U.S. high schools were accused of sexually abusing students.
The officials spoke in front of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing regarding military recruitment, officials claimed they were discussing how to enhance surveillance of the program after a New York Times article detailed the way that instructors who are former military personnel, could sexually assault students at a greater rate than traditional teachers do.
“We completely agree that additional oversight is necessary,” said Stephanie Miller, a deputy assistant secretary of defense saying that military departments are looking at ways to improve the oversight of the program. “We also think that we need to take a hard look at our current background investigation process,” she added.
Responding to Senators. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii the representative of the Air Force were explicit about the department’s shortcomings in overseeing its instructors.
“There’s very little oversight in the Air Force right now,” said Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller, deputy chief of staff for the Air Force.
Miller claimed that regional leaders in The Air Force JROTC program had failed to conduct annual reviews of instructors in the manner required due to there was not enough staff assigned to the job. To ensure additional supervision, she said it was being considered that the Air Force was looking at the addition of regional leaders as well as making use of National Guard personnel and military reservists.
It was established over 100 years ago, military’s JROTC program is now in operation in a myriad of schools each year, teaching half-million pupils about the military’s history and military exercises. Certain cadets as well as public school administrators believe that JROTC is a method to teach discipline and life skills while the military reaps the benefit of recruiting teens to the military.
The Times investigation detailed how the military certifies instructors, typically veterans with long careers in the military forces — but does not take a hands-off approach, mostly letting schools supervise the instructors they hire. JROTC programs typically operate at the margins and instructors act as mentors or leading events off the school campus, or even outside of normal hours.
The Times found 33 instructors who were charged criminally for sexual misconduct that involved students during the course of five years. In a few of the cases the Times looked into, the instructors accused of misconduct had already been the subject of complaints.
The hearing was held on Wednesday. Warren spoke about her case, Dominique Mixon, who had claimed that her teacher had abused her during sexual assault in 2010 and then saw her case not be resolved until another victim made similar allegations a few years after.
In the last month, Congress’s investigators in the House started their own review regarding the JROTC program and demanded Pentagon officials provide information on the severity of allegations of misconduct and how the allegations are dealt with. On Wednesday and Thursday, four Democratic senators from the Armed Services Committee sent letters to the Pentagon as well as officials from the Education Department with more questions regarding the program.
“Each act of misconduct by the instructors, particularly those negative acts related to a vulnerable and extremely impressionable population, leaves a stain on the military,” the senators have written.