Fond du Lac, Wis. – Tom Stokes, a Fond du Lac High School teacher, has students who have never participated in his physical education class, but on April 15 he saw them doing as many push-ups as they could muster before drill sergeants.
Stokes and his students visited the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion’s Pathway to Success, an interactive tour that promoted health and fitness at Stevens Point Area Senior High and Fond du Lac High School April 13 and 15 respectively.
The tour was designed to produce an experience that motivates students to make healthy choices and garner the strength to overcome hardships, said Lt. Col. Robert L. Cody II, battalion commander.
“Our intent was to promote health, fitness and strength among high school students to set them on a pathway to success,” Cody said. “Whatever their future endeavors, students need to develop a lifestyle that embraces these three core principles. We as Soldiers wanted to place ourselves as positive role models among students.”
Pathway to Success hosted a series of stations that challenged students physically and mentally. Presentations by drill sergeants, military working dog handlers, and self-defense experts demonstrated that health, fitness and strength are the foundation for everything they do. A local Partnership for Youth Success agency also supported the event.
Joe Sagen, a Fond du Lac physical education teacher, said the Soldiers achieved the same learning goals he aims for only better because Soldiers bring credibility.
“This event hits on cognitive, physical and social learning aspects that we try to do with students,” Sagen said.
“It’s a good thing because it affirms what we are doing as teachers,” he said.
Jan Omernik, a teacher from Stevens Point Area Senior High, said she was impressed with the event’s emphasis on education.
“Some students get the idea that if they don’t study hard they can go into the Army, but the Army is interested in education,” Omernik said. “This event is more informational, not recruitment. I’m thrilled to see how education is stressed.”
Pathway to Success hosted a March 2 Success station where students could register for free online access to SAT/ACT preparation.
Mitchell Fischer, a SPASH guidance counselor, said the March 2 Success program is an invaluable tool.
“If you make a mistake (on the program) you get immediate feedback and best of all it’s free,” Fischer said.
As a counselor, he said he was pleased to see the educational aspects of the overall event but he also liked the Army exposure this brought to the students where there is no military presence.
Selena Oliver, a SPASH student, said she was initially intimidated by the Soldiers.
“I realized that the Soldiers can be serious but they can also be fun,” Oliver said. “And I had no idea that military police did that with dogs.”
Two military working dog handlers from Fort Lee, Va., demonstrated how a trained dog can help law enforcement operations.
Lexy Eergman was impressed with the ability of the working dog to switch from aggression to friendly.
“The Soldiers are really down to earth. They’re intimidating at first but they turn out to be genuine guys and not macho people like you see on TV,” Eergman said.
Becca Biddick said she noticed how passionate the Soldiers are about what they do.
“You can tell they love what they do and it makes me want to do something I love,” Biddick said.
She currently does not plan on making the Army a future career but having a similar passion as the Soldiers will now be a factor in her career decision.
James Snyder Jr., a Fond du Lac student, said the event showed him how challenging it is to be a Soldier.
“You got to be an overall smart person. It takes mental toughness to be in the Army,” Snyder said.
Mental activities and physical fitness were two of the most engaging activities throughout the event. They were designed to motivate students to embrace a mindset and lifestyle anchored in health and fitness.
Sagen said there was a time when physical education was much more regimented. Now with today’s sedentary lifestyles, physical education has fallen to the wayside. But this Army event rejuvenated interest in physical fitness.
“The students really need to see someone (besides teachers) doing these activities,” he said.
As a result of the positive responses from faculty, administrators and students, the battalion intends to take Pathway to Success to more schools in the fall.
“Now that we have experimented with this concept and seen the impact we can make, it makes sense to do this again at the beginning of the school year,” Cody said.
Students Take On Drill Sergeants
Reedsville, Wis. - Michael Gilsdorf, a Reedsville High School senior from Reedsville, Wis., learned for the first time how important the team concept is to the Army.
“I knew that (the Army) expected character but I never knew how much team meant to a Soldier,” Gilsdorf said.
Gilsdorf and eight other top high school athletes from different parts of Wisconsin were selected to participate in the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion’s third annual “Warrior Athlete Drill Challenge” on April 2. Drill sergeants from the Mobile Exhibitor Drill Sergeant Program, Accessions Support Brigade, engaged the athletes in a series of physical fitness drills and team exercises at the Cousins Center in Milwaukee.
In partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion designed the event to provide top student athletes, who were nominated by their schools, with an Army fitness experience on a small scale.
“We stressed the importance of teamwork and tried to develop a sense of cohesiveness among them,” said Staff Sgt. Erika Watson, an ASB drill sergeant. “We also talked to them about education and how that has helped us in our Army careers.”
Getting students who have never met each other to work as a team in a short period of time is no easy task. Yet Staff Sgt. Jason Smith, another ASB drill sergeant, made it his task to give the students a brief sense of comraderie.
“We did our best to provide a physical fitness challenge that would give them a good workout without over doing it. We kept in mind that these students are not Soldiers so we had to strike a balance,” Smith said.
The drill sergeants taught the students how to march in preparation for their court recognition at the Bradley Center, just before the start of a Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers game.
“Learning the commands and how to turn and stand was fun,” Gilsdorf said. “I didn’t realize how much was involved while marching.”
At the conlusion of the drill challenge, the students participated in a banquet at the Bradley Center where they listened to guest speaker Maj. Mark Richards, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot assigned to the 75th Division, Arlington Heights, Ill. Richards discussed what the Army has meant to him and how his life has changed as a result of being a Soldier.
“Sharing adversity and victory with a group of strangers pulls you together to achieve great things and even something bigger than yourself,” Richards said to the students. “Some of the reasons that you enjoy the challenges that sports and clubs provide you are some of the same reasons that I have enjoyed my time in the military.”
Katherine Kroening, an Athens High School senior in Athens, Wis., said the overall experience has made her want to challenge herself more in order to earn a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Dennis Haak, a Belleville High School senior, expressed a similar sentiment.
“This (experience) will give me more options to consider when I finally finish high school,” Haak said.
Closing Communication Gaps
Elkhart Lake, Wis. - Sgt. 1st Class Eric Tremblay, a recruiter from Onalaska, has a better notion of what kind of prospecting to do after meeting with a brigade commander from an Army Reseve unit in his area. He knows that face-to-face interaction with unit commanders is better than reading vacancy reports.
The Reserve Partnership Council, hosted by the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion, aimed to produce that kind of exchange at Elkhart Lake on March 26. The forum facilitated cooperation between the recruiting battalion, 18 Army Reserve units, four ROTC programs, and the 3rd Medical Recruiting Battalion to synchronize with each other’s mission.
Topics discussed included troop program unit strength management; the Army Reserve Recruiting Assistance Program; the local expansion of the United Services Organization; ROTC and the shortage of Reserve officers; recruiting the medical profession; and breakout sessions addressing management issues between agencies.
The battalion commander imparted the key tasks he wanted to accomplish through the RPC during his opening remarks. Those tasks included enhancing partnerships between recruiters and USAR units, providing referrals to each other, increasing Army visibility in the community, mutually supporting each other with assets, and increasing USAR enlistments.
Following Cody’s remarks, Lesniak addressed the TPUs and focused on retaining and recruiting personnel. He even provided a staffing plan template that outlines ways units can use historical data to predict their needs in the future.
“Units need to take a proactive stance in managing their strength by looking at their history and understanding how many losses and gains they’ve had,” Lesniak said. “They should do the math and determine what will be their end state. Will they grow or reduce if they do nothing? And do they need to do local recruiting? Whatever the case, they need to plan it out and not just hope it gets better.”
For Lesniak, the RPC did not just provide an opportunity to talk with TPU commands, it also afforded him an opportunity to gain feedback on the state of recruiting and retention in the Army Reserve.
Army Reserve recruiters like Sgt. 1st Class Richard Falconberry from Green Bay met with the first sergeant from one of his local TPUs and looks forward to learning more about that unit’s vacancies.
“It’s all about working hand-in-hand to put people in his unit,” Falconberry said. “We get a unit vacancy roster of what they have, but if a unit is way understrength and it’s not showing up on the system then we have no way of knowing they are understrength.”
Tremblay said he understands that problem as well. So when he approached Col. Jeffery O. Bonner, 2nd Brigade commander, 70th Division, shortly after the commander invited recruiters to see him personally he was delighted to exchange contact numbers.
Bonner discouraged recruiters from relying solely on reports that may not accurately reflect his unit’s strength requirements.
“They are recruiting based on a piece of paper that has nothing to do with where I’m going to be one year from now,” Bonner said. “They could be recruiting for a job that is going to disappear. If we (TPUs and recruiters) are not talking with each other, it’s a disservice to everybody.”
Gamers Decode Army Values in America’s Army
Greenfield, Wis. -
After a grueling eight hours of virtual close-quarters combat on America’s Army it came down to an undefeated team of four pitted against a team from the consolation bracket in a double elimination tournament. Yet for all the experience the “A-Team” picked up getting to the finals, the gamers failed to communicate when it counted the most – committing fratricide twice.
The A-Team lost bragging rights and settled for second place among 26 teams who competed in an America’s Army gaming tournament Jan. 29. The Milwaukee Recruiting Company hosted the event at the Army Strong Zone, an Army recruiting mall storefront in Greenfield, Wis.
“We tried to stick together and talk to each other but at some point we just miscommunicated,” said Benjamin Martinez, a Hamilton High School senior. “The other team couldn’t have been much better. They were in the (consolation) bracket.”
Adam Morton-Gunderson, a Union Grove High School senior, from the winning team disagrees. His team lost a match halfway through the tournament and was dropped down to the consolation bracket. But they learned from their mistakes and overconfidence and regained momentum to face off Martinez and his squad in the final round.
“We worked together and made a plan of who would go where and what weapon we would each have,” said Morton-Gunderson.
It’s no surprise that the strategy implemented by Morton-Gunderson’s team resulted in victory. The game is designed to award those who follow the Army Values and work as a team. Morton-Gunderson’s team made a mistake early enough to learn from it, said Rob Lee, a technical integrator for U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Lee provided recruiters training in the setup and operation of a local area network game tournament.
“I can watch at a team play and tell whether it has a chance of reaching the finals,” Lee said. “The best teams are the ones that are communicating with each other and work as a group. When you have teams that operate as individuals, they eventually get eliminated from the competition.”
Good teams know where their buddies are and quickly heal each other when they’re injured instead of suffering a loss. That keeps a team surviving longer than those who don’t, he said.
The game features are intended to relate the Army Values into a winning strategy. Those who understand this are the ones who typically make it to the winner’s circle, Lee said.
At the tournament, more than half of all players noted they had previously played the game online. Yet for Morton-Gunderson, playing against an opponent across a table made the experience intense.
“This was more realistic than online playing. And we got to win something in the end,” said Morton-Gunderson.
Recruiters towered over game play to enforce rules, keep the pace moving, and maintain the integrity of the game, said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dimiceli, Milwaukee Company recruiter.
The winners took home iPods. The second place team received hats and t-shirts. All gamers won the privilege of meeting real-life Soldiers and being one virtually.
U.S. Army Warrior Athlete Drill Challenge puts top Wisconsin athletes to the test
Milwaukee, Wis. – The U.S. Army and Milwaukee Bucks partnered a second year for the Warrior Athlete Drill Challenge Sunday, March 28. Eighteen top performing high school student athletes from Wisconsin converged at the Cousins Center for a physical fitness challenge led by U.S. Army drill sergeants.
The student athletes showcased and tested their athletic talents against the Army’s physical fitness standards. Participants learned how the Army incorporates physical fitness with the seven Army Values (loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage) to shape individuals who are goal-oriented and team players.
The achievement of being selected to represent their schools in the drill challenge was awarded with a plaque during a banquet and public recognition between periods of a Bucks game at the Bradley Center. Awardees marched onto the court led by drill sergeants.
Sgt. 1st Class Enrico Leak and Staff Sgt. Shahin Oskouei, U.S. Army drill sergeants, led the student athletes through the drill challenge. Leak and Oskouei have served since 1997 and 2000, respectively. Both have deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. Ivan Castro, U.S. Army Special Operations Recruiting Battalion, was the Army’s guest speaker during the banquet portion of the Warrior Athlete Drill Challenge.
Castro suffered injuries to include loss of vision while serving as a first lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. Castro was the first blind graduate of the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course at Fort Benning, Ga. He continues to challenge himself by participating in various races and sporting events.
Teammates, Soldiers gather to support local All-American
Milwaukee, Wis. – On January 9, 2010, teammates, friends, and coaching staff from Whitefish Bay High School, Whitefish Bay, Wis., gathered at a restaurant with local Soldiers to show support for William Hagerup. Hagerup, a high school senior and football standout, was selected to the East Squad of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He served as the team’s punter.
In its 10th year, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is already rich in tradition and history as it features the nation's top high school football players, many of whom have gone on to become college and NFL stars. The growing list of alumni includes current NFL stars Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, Tommie Harris, as well as 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow. There are more than 100 alums currently playing in the NFL.
The West squad defeated East, 30-14, with over 34,000 people in attendance at San Antonio’s Alamodome. With this win, the overall series between the two squads is tied at 5-5.
Training for the future and honoring the past - Milwaukee Battalion Annual Training Conference 2009
Milwaukee, Wis. – Milwaukee Battalion’s Annual Training Conference was held Dec. 4-5, 2009 at the Milwaukee Hilton. Soldiers from the Battalion’s six recruiting companies received training in a variety of areas to include safety, ethics, personnel management, and recruiting processes. The conference concluded with a formal awards banquet. Maj. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, Commanding General, U.S. Army Recruiting Command addressed the attendees and presented almost 50 awards in acknowledgement of recruiter successes in 2009.
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