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Houlahan Introduces Bill to Save Phoenixville JROTC Program, Similar Programs in U.S.

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, helped introduced the bipartisan Preserving JROTC Programs Act to help save the Phoenixville Area School District’s Air Force JROTC program. This bill would amend the federal statue, helping mid-size schools like Phoenixville to better meet the student (cadet) enrollment requirements. The legislation is also led by fellow veteran Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL).


“When 23% of Air Force JROTC programs aren’t meeting cadet enrollment requirements, it’s pretty clear the status quo isn’t working,” said Houlahan. “As a veteran and former teacher, I was truly upset when I heard the news about the Phoenixville Air Force JROTC program closure. But as our representative in Congress, I was also resolved to do something about it. This bipartisan bill is a direct result of students, parents, educators, and our community leaders making their voices heard – I want to thank them for standing up for a program that deserves all of our support. I also want to thank my colleague Rep. Waltz for his leadership. It’s my sincere hope that the Air Force listens to our request and keeps this program and others open while Congress addresses additional ways to support cadets, instructors, and schools.”


“Our JROTC programs help promote civic participation amongst our youth and help address the recruitment shortfalls our military faces today,” said Waltz. “Currently, there are 3,499 JROTC programs operating across America, which is far below the Congressionally authorized limit. Our bill would lower the threshold for the number of students needed to maintain a JROTC program at schools from 100 to 50 students, and therefore, increase the number of programs across the country. The more programs available to students, no matter their size, the better. That’s why I am proud to work with my colleague, Congresswoman Houlahan, to protect and expand this important steppingstone for young Americans interested in serving our great nation.”


“Phoenixville’s Air Force JROTC provides invaluable contributions to our school district and our broader community while teaching 65 hard working cadets the importance of public service and critical lifelong skills,” said Susan Turner, President, Phoenixville Area School Board. “We are honored and excited that Reps. Houlahan and Waltz recognize how valuable JROTC programs are for Phoenixville and communities across the country and thank them for working so quickly to introduce this crucial bipartisan legislation to protect them.”


Back in 2020, Houlahan helped save the Coatesville Air Force JROTC program, which is now thriving after nearly doubling their enrollment due to partnerships with nearby schools such as Oxford and Downingtown. In response to news about the Phoenixville AFJROTC program, the instructor at the Coatesville AFJROTC program sent a letter to Houlahan, which is quoted below.


“Since you were able to save our JROTC program back in 2020, we have seen steady growth in our enrollment due to the addition of crosstown agreements with the Oxford Area School District and Downingtown Area,” wrote program instructor James E. Turnbull, LTC, USAF (RET). “The number of students increased from 63 in 2020 to 111 last year. The program’s expansion provides more students in the area with the opportunity to reap the benefits of JROTC. In the last few years we’ve been able to reach more students, impact more lives, and do more good for our community. We are the good news story here in Chester County.”




Earlier this year, the Department of the Air Force announced that 193 of 841 Air Force JROTC units were non-viable due to cadet enrollment requirements. Of the 193 non-viable units, 5 were notified for closure including the program in Phoenixville.


In response, Houlahan, Waltz and two additional colleagues wrote a letter in January to the Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall, asking him to reconsider the closure of these programs, which includes Phoenixville. The letter also talked about their efforts through the House Armed Services Committee to further support these programs, including potentially amending Section 2031 of Title 10 that requires a JROTC program’s minimum enrollment to be at least 10% of the total number of students enrolled at a school, or 100 students, whichever is less.




The bipartisan Preserving JROTC Programs Act would amend Section 2031 of Title 10 and change the cadet enrollment requirement to 10% of the total number of students enrolled at a school, or 50 students, whichever is less. This change will help mid-size schools like Phoenixville remain viable as they work to increase cadet enrollment.


Read the full text of the bill here.


Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.