By Rob Fisher
Chicago Recruiting Battalion
May 08, 2017
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The U.S. Army Chicago Recruiting Battalion brought 27 teachers, counselors and principals from Chicago and northern Indiana on an educator tour of the installation here April 26-28 to show them how America's men and women become Soldiers.
"This program really shows how the Army provides educational and leadership opportunities to their students," said Lt. Col. Derek Keller, the battalion's commanding officer. "They get to see first-hand the career and leadership training, internships and other valuable Army experiences that can help prepare their students for the future."
The experience walked educators through the first steps of every Soldier's introduction to the U.S. Army. They had the opportunity to see the Soldier lifestyle from basic training to daily work and finally the eventual return to civilian life.
Educators saw how the Army emphasized the importance of education throughout a Soldier's career.
Learning about the multiple educational and financial benefits afforded to students who are interested in pursuing a career with the Army will enable educators to better explain options after high school, according to Jacquelyn Dunn, counselor at Douglass Academy High School in Chicago.
"It is not like you sign up, give four years, and they are done with you," said Michael Lipinski, teacher at Portage Township School in Portage, Indiana. "Funding of education is important, and the educational experiences that are available to these men and women are great."
The group learned about the various Army programs to help pay for college, including tuition assistance, the G.I. Bill and student loan repayment.
Highlighting multiple Army college programs and more than 150 jobs, the tour was an "eye-opener" for many educators who finished the tour informed and impressed with the opportunities available in today's Army, according to John Weber, dean of students at Purdue University Northwest.
This program aimed to ensure teachers from around the country get an accurate look at what Soldiers experiences when they first join the Army. During the tour, educators learned about military history at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center; interacted with Army vehicles, equipment and aircraft with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit; and even tested their gaming skills on U.S. Army Virtual Battlespace 3.
"I enjoyed talking with the recruits," said Lori Mitchell, guidance department chair, Grayslake Central High School in Grayslake, Illinois. "Their perspective was informative and honest. I really appreciated this opportunity to learn more about the Army... I am better informed, which will directly impact my students."