FLORENCE, Texas -- A senior Fort Hood commander met with the superintendent of Florence Independent School District here Monday, with both promising to continue the footing already laid for III Corps and Fort Hood's Adopt-a-School program.
"What are the biggest things we can help you with?" asked Col. (P) John C. Ulrich, U.S. Army Operational Test Command commander. "What are the ways that you think that we can best help and be partners?"
"The first thing is what you guys are already doing," said Paul Michalewicz, Florence ISD superintendent. "Every single time that you guys leave, a teacher -- at least one -- will make a comment, 'I love those guys. I love that they come. I love what they do for our kids.'"
Michalewicz explained to Ulrich how he has been brainstorming an initiative in developing character education, and how a recent visit by an OTC Soldier who conducted a presentation on flag etiquette fit into his idea.
"The handling of the flag, and the reverence for the flag and the little history that comes with why it is important -- that was huge for us," he said of OTC's January visit.
"I'm telling you -- I received great feedback from board members and community members, so you all are very much a part of what we think can help with our character development."
Ulrich discussed the role of Soldiers in the greater Fort Hood community.
"This is an investment in our future," he said. "These students are today's citizens and tomorrow's leaders.
"In the military," Ulrich continued, "what we see is anything we can do to enhance a school's mission in terms of whether it is on the character side, or the fitness side, is beneficial to us as well."
A back-and-forth discussion between the two turned into a heart-to-heart about how the school district can reach children as early as possible to positively impact the foundation of students' future.
The chat between Michalewicz and Ulrich clinched the future rapport between Florence ISD and OTC.
"The military would like to remain connected to society," Ulrich said. "We can do this by contributing to our community so that people can understand who their Army is, what they are, and what they do."
"We'll reach out to you guys for college and career days," Michalewicz said. "We'd love to have your continued presence here."
"We recognize the importance of that," Ulrich said. "What I'd like to do is come back again in the fall after you get back to school. We're in it together."
Operational Test Command's mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.