By Andrew SharbelJuly 23, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Every year, a group of educators takes the long flight from San Antonio to Washington, D.C., to get a better understanding and a broader appreciation of our nation's military mission.
During the course of their visit, the San Antonio Army Recruiters Educator's Tour views the military in a broad scope by taking a tour of the Pentagon and meeting with some of its leaders.
In addition to their Pentagon trip, the group spent Thursday at Fort Belvoir, to get a more- focused look at life on an Army installation.
"They chose to come to Belvoir because of its diverse mission. Our job is to make sure that when they leave, they do so with a deeper appreciation for life in the military," Pauline Hunter, chief of Community Relations at Fort Belvoir and one of the visit organizers, said.
The group consisted of a variety of different occupations within the education system, including college professors and high school guidance counselors.
Visitors were able to interact with Soldiers, see them in their environment, and ask questions regarding life in the military.
The day began with a tour of the Fairfax Village Neighborhood Center, the first military project to receive Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"We took them to the neighborhood center because that center serves as the benchmark for environmentally sustainable facilities on other military installations across the nation," Hunter said.
Also highlighting the day was a luncheon and briefing at the Officers' Club that included details on the new hospital at Belvoir, programs at the Barden Education Center and career opportunities in the Army.
With this year being the "Year of the NCO," tour organizers set up the lunch tables so each one had two NCOs to answer any of the educators' questions.
Guests were able to interact with each of these Soldiers during lunch and get an idea of why they joined the military and what drives them on a daily basis.
A highlight of the day for Vanessa Kenon, a graduate research assistant with the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department at the University of Texas-San Antonio, was the visit and tour of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
"The Geospatial Center was a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to guide our students in the right direction for their futures," Kenon said. "In the past, I have worked in the technology field, so, it was really cool for me to see the work they do over there."
Closing out the day was a military police dog demonstration by the 212th Military Police Detachment.
Some of the educators were even brave enough to put on the safety sleeve and take a controlled bite from the dogs during the demonstration.