Each year Nov. 11 is recognized as Veterans Day, in the U.S. it’s a time to recognize and honor the service of all men and women who served or are serving in any of the uniformed armed forces.

The Independence School District’s districtwide Army JROTC program is always heavily involved in supporting many of the local Veterans Day events with Color Guards and other cadet support teams. The Veterans Day week is a highly active period for the Trails West Cadet Battalion. This year the cadet leadership decided they wanted to conduct a service project specifically focused on local Veterans.

In collaboration with the local American Red Cross, the Trails West JROTC battalion organized a personal care items/sundry items collection focused on assisting local veterans. The original collection started out small, but quickly grew into a much larger effort.

The Army JROTC program is aligned with the Public Service Career Academy at each high school, so the cadets expanded their efforts by involving the students and faculty of the Public Service Academies. The Van Horn HS Interact Club (high school Rotary affiliate) stepped up and volunteered to help, in keeping with their motto of “service before self.” Next came the idea of asking for assistance from other schools, which JROTC has supported at different times – those schools responded by conducting their own collection efforts on behalf of local veterans. Even a local DAR chapter became involved as well as a couple of local businesses.

In the end, approximately 400 pounds of personal care items were collected and turned over to the American Red Cross for distribution to local veterans in need; homeless veterans, long-term admissions to the VA hospital, and the State Home for Veterans in Warrensburg.

Jason Ramlow with the American Red Cross said “… the fantastic work done by JROTC and other groups in collecting 2,775 items would help provide comfort and care to many area Veterans….”

The whole event served as clear demonstration of the Army JROTC motto: “Motivating Young People to be Better Citizens”.