JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Museum curators at the Lewis Army Museum on Joint Base Lewis-McChord have begun offering Gear Faith courses this year to on-base units.
With more than 6,000 artifacts and historical uniform items at the museum, Soldiers on JBLM can now receive a unique hands-on experience of the types of equipment used by earlier generations of service members.
“The design, material, weight and wear of Army-issued equipment has changed dramatically throughout history,” said Erik Flint, Lewis Army Museum director. “We teach the Gear Faith course to provide Soldiers with a look into what previous generations of Soldiers wore into battle and to give them the tools to continue improving how they are equipped today.”
During the hour-long course, Soldiers learn how certain types of gear, including helmets, flak vests and boots, have evolved through eras of conflict and are able to try them on for a comparison of modern equipment.
“The Gear Faith course provides a great perspective of the past while empowering Soldiers to make future changes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Martinez, a human resources specialist from the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade. “It is also pretty nostalgic for an older guy like me. I remember wearing some of this gear on display, and there are even a few pieces that look just like what I was issued as a young private.”
Soldiers attending the course have the opportunity to bring in their own gear for review and learn how to submit suggestions to improve future uniform items through the Army’s Soldier Enhancement Program.
“It’s almost hard to believe that Soldiers wore gear like this into combat back in the day, especially with all the stuff we have today,” said Sgt. Ryan Cooley, a unit supply specialist also assigned to the 502nd MI Bn. “Mr. Flint did a great job showing us just how far we and the innovations of combat protection have come.”
For more than 30 years, the Army’s Soldier Enhancement Program has supported the accelerated integration, modernization and enhancement efforts of lighter, more lethal weapons.
“While education is a huge part of what we do here, the main goal of the course is to empower Soldiers with the ability to make change,” Flint said. “Suggestions from Soldiers carry a lot of weight with policy makers and defense developers today. The modern Soldier has the power to influence how modern warfighting equipment, load-bearing equipment, field gear, survivability items, communications equipment and navigational aids are being made.”
Anyone can submit a proposal for individual Soldier equipment, and SEP can often provide that capability for Soldiers in less than three years. The SEP executive council meets each February and August to approve initiatives for the next fiscal year.
To submit a suggestion or proposal, visit: https://www.peosoldier.army.mil/
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