By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsApril 21, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - Graduate students from The University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs took a field trip to visit the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division on Fort Hood, Texas, April 8.
The bus arrived in the morning with approximately 25 graduate students full of questions and ready to experience a day in the boots of a Soldier.
The group went to several routine training sites to learn about the basic skills Soldiers are required to keep refined. They witnessed humvee roll-over drill training and participated in scenarios at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000.
"We were all terrible at the scenarios but it taught us a lot," stated Arlington, Texas native Stephanie Chiarello, a graduate student.
After all the intense training, the group ate lunch at the Ironhorse dining facility. During "chow" the students conversed with several Soldiers from the brigade about their experiences in Iraq and what it meant to be a Soldier.
"My knowledge of the military comes from what the media portrays; there is no better way to know what a Soldier is all about than talking to them first hand," said Michelle Lalonde, another student.
The students asked the troopers everything from reasons for joining and reenlisting, average schedules, experiences and attitude while deployed.
Exposing the students to Soldiers is particularly important considering many have had no interaction with the military and will move on to careers in public service where policies involving the services are considered, stated Douglad MacMilllan II, research associate for the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Driving through the installation, the students got a brief tour of the different units on post and got the opportunity to view a unit preparing to deploy.
"We went through the other side of post where a unit was deployed, it was all deserted with the buildings closed up and all the vehicles were missing," said Lalonde.
Roundup, Mont. native Col. Paul E. Funk II, brigade commander, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., held an open meeting with the students after the day's activities. He briefly explained the break down of the unit and the area covered while deployed during OIF 06-08. He also informed them on the vast accomplishments the Ironhorse Brigade achieved this past deployment. He then opened up the floor for questions.
The students departed Fort Hood early in the afternoon having received a taste of the training Soldiers go through and gaining more knowledge on Soldiers in general.
Talking to the Soldiers was great, there's nothing like hearing what they have to say about what they do, stated Lalonde.