FORT HOOD, Texas - On most occasions, when interacting with students and teachers through an Adopt-a-School program, Soldiers from the 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion and 21st Combat Support Hospital conduct math tutoring and leadership courses twice a month. But students from the Edwards Academy High School, out of Temple, Texas, got a unique field trip experience Mar. 23 at the Fort Hood Medical Training Simulation Center.
Soldiers, along with instructors and noncommissioned officers for the simulation center, started the morning by teaching students how to use a stretcher. The students were also given a tour of the facility before they ripped into the Army's pre-packaged Meals-Ready-to-Eat, known as MREs, at lunchtime.
The main event came soon after the class of predominately juniors and seniors had eaten; it was a team-building race through the obstacle course normally reserved for Soldiers. Built to test the medical and tactical skills of U.S. troops, the simulation center became a gauntlet in the face of the students.
"This was a great idea for these kids. It's a way to create an understanding of what a Soldier's life can be in combat," said 1st Lt. Jennifer Moore, commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 61st MMB (Rear Detachment).
Prior to tackling the obstacle course, MTSC instructors foreshadowed what the students would face by telling them: "You're going to get tired. You're going to get dirty. You may even get angry. But you'll need to work as a team."
Aaron Jackson showed his competitive side as his team set out from the start line carrying a dummy casualty on a stretcher. Jackson is a high school senior who said he plans to attend Temple College after he graduates.
"I feel bad. I feel like I could have done better," said Jackson as he winced in pain holding his ankle which he rolled when his team had to lift the dummy casualty above their heads.
Students rounded off their training day with the Soldiers of the 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), with lessons on applying a tourniquet, and proper hydration.
"Our students have gained a great depth of knowledge of service and what Soldiers do for this country," said Sharon Holleman, the assistant principal and an administrator for Edwards Academy. Holleman was motivating her students throughout the morning's raucous agenda.
Moore thinks there is a good reason her Soldiers have had success with the students from Edwards Academy. "Our Soldiers are not that much older than a lot of the students, so I think they relate to them."
"These are teachable moments these Soldiers are providing, and this medical training exposes our students to the knowledge that they need - education and compassion for their fellow man," said Holleman.