By Ms. Cynthia RiversWomack, Jacksonville Recruiting BattalionJune 28, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Educators from the Jacksonville Army Recruiting Battalion area of operations took a daylong tour of operations that support Soldiers and Families, retirees and civilians at Fort Stewart, Ga., in June.
The purpose of the tour, according to Lt. Col. Stephen Grabski, Jacksonville Battalion commander, was to "give educators a glimpse of Soldiers' lives on a post and show educators how the jobs done by Soldiers can translate into civilian careers."
Many of the educators were not sure what Army recruiters offered students when they spoke with them about joining the Army but after this tour they gained a broader understanding of the many levels of professional opportunities available in the Army.
Heidi Deaton, a guidance counselor at Pedro Menendez High School said the tour opened her eyes about the Army way of life.
"There are so many things about being a Soldier I just didn't know about. Now, I can talk with my students more confidently about joining the Army, if that's something they chose," she said.
Educators from New Hampstead High School in Savannah, Ga., Wayne County High School in Jesup, Ga., Echols County High School in Statenville, Ga., Pedro Menendez High School in Palm Coast, Fla., and West Nassau High School in Callahan, Fla., attended the tour, accompanied by Capt. Aaron Rogers, Savannah Recruiting Company commander, along with recruiters from Jacksonville, Valdosta, St. Augustine, Hinesville and Savannah.
The tour's first visit was to Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk where community support initiated a memorial walkway with over 500 trees honoring Third Infantry's Division Fallen Soldiers of Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.
New Hampstead High School JROTC instructor, retired Air Force Lt. Col. George Kelly, was so impressed with the memorial that he plans to bring his cadets to the site this summer.
"This is something they need to see and experience," he said, referring to the trees that showed names and tokens from friends and families of those who lost their lives during Operation's Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
After leaving Warriors Walk, the tour visited The Titans' motor pool where Soldiers with experience spanning from as little as two years to 22 years explained their jobs, ranging from Combat Medic and Petroleum Supply Specialist to Mechanic and Satellite Communications Specialist. Although the Soldiers were already qualified in their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) the educators continuously heard that they were always working on enhancing their skills through the additional education platforms online and in the classroom.
The educators also heard how those skills could seamlessly translate into civilian careers which could be a plus for students who might need assistance navigating through Army career opportunities. In addition to talking with Soldiers at the motor pool, the educators had lunch in a dining facility where they had more one-on-one conversations with Fort Stewart Soldiers.
Rounding out the tour, the educators learned about the medical facilities that support Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Winn Army Community Hospital and Tuttle Army Health Clinic, and its satellite clinics, which offer emergency room services as well as dental and pediatric care for Soldiers and Families and retirees. The group also received a tour of the Spc. Paul R. Smith Education Center from Dr. Robin Ellert, a former Soldier who is now its chief of operations. The education center has a partnership with five colleges and universities that offer classroom and online classes to Soldiers and Families, civilians and the surrounding community.
The highlight of the day for the educators was a visit to the Virtual Training Center where they learned to load and fire weapons using the Engagement Skill Training simulator, similar to a large video screen. This simulation helps Soldier improve their weapons skills and enhances team building.
"There were many things about the Army I just didn't know about. I really didn't know all the education opportunities and family support young people had available to them when they joined the Army. This is something I can really share with my students and co-workers," said Deaton.