SCHUMER: POPULAR NATIONAL DEFENSE CADET CORPS PROGRAM AT ALBANY HIGH SCHOOL – THE SGT. HENRY JOHNSON BATTALION – IS LIMITED TO 75 STUDENTS DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS; SCHUMER URGES U.S. ARMY TO RECOGNIZE & FULLY FUND ALBANY’S PRE-MILITARY PROGRAM SO SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN INCREASE NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO BECOME CADETS
Popular Sgt. Henry Johnson Battalion Has Established A National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) Program, But The U.S. Army Has Not Recognized It As An Official “Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC)” Program – Which Is The Linchpin In Receiving Fed Funding
Senator Says Budget Constraints Have Forced Albany City School To Exhaust Resources & Cap The Highly Successful Pre-Military Program To Only 75 Students
Schumer To Army: As We Mark The 98th Anniversary Of The “Battle of Henry Johnson,” Promote Albany School District’s NDCC To JROTC
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Army to establish a full-fledged Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program at Albany High School. Schumer explained that Albany is currently running an unfunded version of the Army’s JROTC program, called the National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC). Albany High School’s NDCC calls itself “The Henry Johnson Battalion,” after the famed WWI African American soldier from Albany, NY who fought off a German raiding party in the Argonne Forest, all while saving his sentry partner and unit in the process. Schumer said that, as we mark the 98th Anniversary of the “Battle of Henry Johnson,” it is unfair that this very successful pre-military program has been forced to cap its program at 75 students due to lack of funds and resources. Schumer therefore urged the Army to fully recognize Albany High School’s NDCC as an official JROTC program, which would open it up to the federal funding it needs to expand and provide more students looking to serve their community and give them the training and skills they need to pursue a career in military service.
“Every day the ‘Henry Johnson Battalion’ at Albany High School commemorates the life and spirit of Sgt. Henry Johnson. This program which was named in his honor, provides students with the opportunities to learn about and train for careers in military service. It is only fitting as we mark the 98th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Henry Johnson,’ to promote Albany School Districts’ NDCC program to a fully recognized JROTC program. This promotion will transform and expand the current program, making room for more students, funding for additional instructors and new equipment and the ability to compete in national JRTOC competitions. Just like I fought for Sgt. Henry Johnson’s Medal of Honor, I will fight for Albany High School to be fully recognized as a JROTC program,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer explained that Albany High School currently runs a very successful pre-military program for students called “The Henry Johnson Battalion,” named after African-American WWI hero and Albany resident, Sgt. Henry Johnson. Schumer worked tirelessly from 1999 to last year to secure the Medal of Honor for Sgt. Johnson who, due to racism and segregation, was denied this country’s highest military honor for his heroics – until President Obama awarded the medal posthumously in June of 2015. Schumer explained that Albany’s NDCC program is named in Johnson’s honor, and many of the young men and women taking part in the NDCC program at Albany High see him as a role model. However, Schumer said this program is currently prevented from expanding due to lack of funding. Because NDCC is the unfunded version of the nationally recognized U.S. Army JROTC program, it does not receive the same financial support a JROTC program does and it is continually short on resources.
Due to this lack of funds, Schumer said Albany has had to cap its program at 75 students this year, thereby turning away high school students who are looking to learn more about and train for careers in military service. The school estimates that, with funding, the Henry Johnson Battalion could be expanded to 120 students this upcoming fall. Schumer is pushing the Army to establish Albany’s current NDCC as a full JROTC program in time for the new school year, citing that it would be a disservice to students who are merely left out of an academically beneficial program due to lack of a federal designation and full funding. Schumer said that while the Army’s JROTC program is understandably limited and selective, Albany’s program was placed this year on the JROTC “Order of Merit List,” but deserves to be approved, fully funded and recognized. Schumer said this would be a tremendous way to keep Sgt. Henry Johnson’s legacy of honor and service to his hometown and his country alive.
Schumer was joined by Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Major David Erickson, who heads the Albany High School NDCC program; Ken Bruce, President of the Albany City School Board; School Board Members Sue Adler, Rose Brandon, Ellen Roach and Vicki Smith; Kimberly Young Wilkins, Interim Superintendent of the Albany School District; and Julie Barber, Principal of the Innovation Academy at Albany High School. Schumer was also joined by Daryl McCray and James Dandles, of the 369th Veteran Association; Gene Loparco, who last week was recognized as “Albany County Citizen of the Month;” Larry West, who has been a leader in the Veteran’s community in the Capital Region for decades; and Charlene Robbins, who is a “Gold Star Mother” award winner and also serves as Chaplain for the Tri-County Council Vietnam Era Veterans.
“We are so grateful for Sen. Schumer’s support in helping to establish a full JROTC program at Albany High School,” said City School District of Albany Interim Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D. “Our program has been a great success in its first year this year, with more than 70 students participating. Establishing Albany High’s program as a fully funded JROTC program will allow us to make the benefits available to even more students, and expand the opportunities we are able to provide.”
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the U.S. Army appears below:
Dear Undersecretary of the Army Patrick Murphy and Major General Combs,
I write to urge the Army to establish a full Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program at Albany High School, which currently runs an unfunded version of this program called the National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) that they wish to expand. Please note that this is the 98th anniversary of the "Battle of Henry Johnson," and, as you know, Sgt. Johnson was an African American soldier from Albany, NY who fought off a German raiding party in the Argonne Forest, saving his sentry partner and unit in the process. I led the effort to secure the Medal of Honor for Johnson, which President Obama awarded last summer. In honor of Sgt. Johnson, the Albany High School NDCC corps calls itself the “The Henry Johnson Battalion.”
Nearly a century after Sgt. Johnson’s heroics Albany High School has established a very successful National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC). It is very popular, but this year it and had to be capped at 75 students due to the lack of funding. Albany High has a disproportionate minority population which is mirrored in the program. The participating students have improved their academics, their attendance rates, have fewer discipline issues, and increased their engagement within the school community.
It would be a tremendous and enduring tribute to Henry Johnson, and a much-needed opportunity for the students there eager to serve our nation, for the Army to establish a full JROTC program at Albany High School. It is wonderful that so many years later, these young men and women, identify with Sgt. Johnson and view him as a role model. They know that he was a citizen solider from Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood, who performed extraordinarily when called upon by his country, and they are inspired to do the same. For these reasons, and others, it is America’s and the Army’s best interest to provide a full JROTC program to the students at Albany High School.
I understand that due to sequestration (an overly constrictive formulation, which I have fought to undo), funding for the JROTC program is limited, and that Albany’s NDCC program has been placed on the JROTC “Order of Merit List.” Further, I have been told that eight programs were scheduled for closure in FY ‘16, and four new programs established. Therefore, I request your assistance to award Albany High School a full-fledged JROTC. The school estimates, that with funding, the corps will be expanded to 120 students this fall. What a tremendous way to keep Sgt. Henry Johnson’s legacy of honor and service to his hometown and his country alive!
Again, I urge you to award a JROTC to Albany High School, and stand ready to assist in any way that I can. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly, if you would like to discuss this matter further.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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