FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - A group of 15 educators and community partners from Arizona joined leadership from the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion for an Educators Tour of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., April 10-11.
The purpose of the tour was to provide a comprehensive orientation and overview of Fort Huachuca for the attendees, who included teachers, superintendents and school counselors.
The tour highlighted the capabilities and activities offered at Fort Huachuca, including a visit to the Military Intelligence (MI) School, a guided tour of the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, briefs from the Judge Advocate General and Military Police, a performance from the MI Corps Band and a glimpse into the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator School.
The tour also showcased Army facilities, housing, as well as the everyday activities undertaken by service members on Fort Huachuca.
The tour was led by Lt. Col. David Clukey, commander, Phoenix. Rec. Bn., who was joined by company commanders from the Phoenix Central and North Recruiting Companies.
Clukey said his intent for the tour was to introduce educators and key influencers to the Army disciplines that require a significantly higher General Technical/Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery score, to counter the common misconception that the Army is a second option to college.
"I wanted to ensure our attendees were provided an opportunity to understand what the U.S. Army has to offer in professional training, formal education, career choices and support services at installation levels as soldiers," Clukey said.
This means establishing close ties with local educators, which helps leverage the recruiting mission for the battalion, he said.
"This tour helped improve communications and synchronize recruiting efforts between the education establishment and Community Partners, including encouragement of individual relationships with education administrators, counselors, and teachers in the battalion area of operations," Clukey continued.
"We want to solidify the positive nature of military service and to provide extensive career choices for students," Clukey added.
Attending the trip was Mario Diaz, a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, who said the trip was extremely informative and helped him gain a better insight into how the Army operates.
"It's been an incredible educational opportunity for individuals who're not completely familiar with the intricacies of the Army, especially on the occupational side," Diaz said. "This tour has been by far the best I've attended, in terms of specific information on specific occupations. The educators on this tour will now be able to go back to their schools and educate others."
For Diaz the most enlightening aspect of the tour was hearing from enlisted Soldiers, who do their jobs day in and out, often with little fanfare.
"Listening to the Soldiers who are working every day at their jobs, the actual practitioners of that occupation, was the highlight for me," he said. "What I learned from them was invaluable, especially the briefs we received from the K-9 handlers. What they do in their job and how they got there was very informative."
Diaz said he would take back what he learned from the tour to educate people he works with in the Phoenix area, as part of his government and business development consulting firm.
"I'll be able to tell them about the 150 job opportunities the Army offers and how every position is unique," he said. "The sky really is the limit in the Army."
Also attending the tour was Mike Thomason, superintendent, Higley School District, who also praised the tour for its varied scope of recognizing different jobs offered by the Army, of which he found MI of the most interest.
"I'm really grateful for the chance to see Fort Huachuca, especially the MI stuff, because it's something I feel we can sell to the schoolkids in my district," Thomason said. "I'm here to represent my community. Over 85 percent of our kids go onto to some level of post-secondary education and what I've learned here is what I need to take back to them."
Thomason said his school district was ranked number one in Arizona and firmly believes he has the right students to help the Army in the future.
"We don't just compete in Arizona, we compete at the highest national level. What I've seen here I'll be able to take back and make us stronger," he said. "I'd like to start up some MI programs for my students so they can learn what they need to when they attend the MI school here at Fort Huachuca."
"I'd really like to push the MI narrative - it's highly skilled and technical and I think that's where things are leading,' Thomason said.