Rock Island, Ill. - In the frigid, early hours of Feb. 20, four Army Contracting Command-Rock Island officers made their way into a van bound for DeKalb, Ill. By 8 a.m., Majs. Jade Miller, Donald Smith, Dwayne Haigler, all ACC-RI contract specialists, and ACC-RI Executive Officer Capt. Timothy Godwin, met with approximately 30 Northern Illinois University Reserve Officers' Training Corps Military Science III and MS IV cadets to discuss their potential futures in the Army.

The officers outlined their professional backgrounds, which provided information that the cadets used to ask questions about the transition from ROTC cadet to Army officer.

Lt. Col. David Dosier, Department Chair of Military Science at NIU, said the morning's outreach may have changed some of the cadets' perceptions of their upcoming transition from student to officer.
"It really gave the cadets a chance to see things from a different perspective," said Dosier. "Having this information come from someone other than me, who they've listened to for the past three years, is valuable. I think it may have changed some of the cadets' minds on what it will be like moving into their branches."

An hour-and-a-half question-and-answer session touched on many topics, but the overall theme centered on the relationships the cadets would have with the Soldiers they will lead as newly commissioned officers, as well the relationship between peers and leadership.

In November, Miller and Smith conducted a similar outreach event at Western Illinois University as part of a local effort to recruit, train and retain the nation's future force. Miller said the questions cadets asked at NIU and WIU were largely similar. Several cadets stayed after the session to ask additional questions of the officers.

"Once again the cadets posed some very good questions," said Miller. "We are trying to emphasize long term thinking and not just what it means to get their commission. A unique opportunity for us is to be able to define Functional Areas, with particular focus on the Acquisition Corps."
The ACC-RI officers are hopeful they will be able to reach out to other ROTC cadets at schools such as Illinois State, University of Iowa, Northern Iowa and Iowa State.

ACC-RI Acting Director Col. John Hannon said the critical personal interaction and information the officers provided to the ROTC cadets will very likely be instrumental to many of their Army officer career choices, helping them to visualize the long-term 'big picture'. It is also an outstanding way for these officers to "pay it forward" with these cadets and soon-to-be commissioned officers, he said.

"This second outreach event by ACC-RI's officers was a great opportunity for them to make lasting impressions and provide their first-hand accounts of how they built a successful Army career with some potential future leaders of the Army," said Hannon. "I'm hopeful we are able to extend our reach to other ROTC programs in area colleges and universities, it is imperative that we help tell the Army story and keep ROTC recruiting 'Army Strong!'"