FORT LEE, Va. — Contrary to popular belief among the general public, most of the jobs in the Army are not combat related.
More than two dozen educators from across the nation got to witness first-hand how the Army trains and educates Soldiers for more than 150 different career opportunities during U.S. Army Recruiting Command‘s 2017 National Educator Tour here June 21-22.
Attendees met with Soldiers and Army leaders and networked with other influential community leaders who share similar interests.
The two-day tour highlighted career specialties specific to the training mission at Fort Lee and included a visit to the premier Army Logistics University. The state-of-the-art learning center not only trains Soldiers to be adept in planning and executing logistics for the Army, but it also prepares them for civilian employment after they exit the service, said ALU Commandant Col. Tom Rogers.
“Planning to move supplies in Iraq is no different than planning to move supplies for (a company) in the U.S.” Rogers said. “We plan, load a truck, drive a truck, and manage inventory. (Soldiers) are better suited than their counterparts, because they’re put in harder situations with much more dire consequences.
“But they’re learning and doing the same things that their civilian counterparts are doing from a technology and education and learning standpoint. So they are very well prepared to operate in the civilian world.”
Rogers said if Soldiers take advantage of getting the certification for the training and education they receive from schools like ALU, they will leave the Army with the credentials ready to work in the civilian sector.
“Not only will they have the same civilian credentials that their peers in the civilian world have, but they will also have their military experience and the maturity they’ve learned from leading and developing others,” Rogers said.
Educators visited the Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department, where Soldiers learn how to rig and perform maintenance on parachutes and perform sling load and air load inspections.
Due to their extensive knowledge and experience, it’s hard to keep paratroopers in the Army when they’re regularly courted by private companies in the parachute industry, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cortez Frazier, command airdrop advisor for the Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department.
“They’re getting jobs as equipment specialist and becoming the experts for the industry,” Frazier said. “Because not only have they operated the equipment, packed it, and jumped it, but they take that information to the industry and tell them what works and how it can be done better.
“(Having this knowledge is) hard on Army retention but guarantees a good job on the outside.”
At the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training Department Robotics Lab, educators learned about the different robots the Army uses to dispose of ordnance. Soldiers learn how to operate and perform preventive maintenance and basic repairs on the equipment as well as how it’s used in homeland defense and tactical environments.
Many Soldiers with four to six years of training in EOD have been hired to be the subject matter experts for robotics companies, according to Master Sgt. Jason Cox, department sergeant major for the Munitions and Explosives Ordinance Training Department.
“Several former Soldiers now work for major robotics companies as either service representatives or in product design and development,” Cox said. “One Soldier provides code for robotics systems.”
Cox added, “With the training and knowledge learned here, (and being in) an environment where you can meet other people in the same field that have the same objectives and goals (puts you in position) to develop robotics for the defense and civilian sector.”
Dr. Larry Nabors, president Mississippi Delta Community College, said he was surprised to learn the Army offers more than 150 occupations.
“You don’t think a lot about those behind-the-scenes jobs like the parachute riggers, mechanics, folks who run the washers and dryers and all that it takes to keep an Army going,” Nabors said.
“A lot of the skills are very transferable to the public sector jobs. I think it’s great those young people are learning those skills. Whether they decide to stay in the Army or not, they have a skill to fall back on. I was really surprised to learn about the high-tech jobs, especially with the robots — a lot of technology.”
Nabors said the knowledge he gained during the National Educator Tour will help him recommend the Army in the future.
“I think we’ll try to work more closely with our local recruiters and give them an opportunity to speak to our young people and let them know about the different jobs available for them in the Army,” Nabors said.
Educators were briefed on March2Success, a free online, academic program designed to enhance student performance on standardized and college admissions tests while enhancing their science, technology, engineering and math skills and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program, which helps students find careers of interest.
Many were surprised to find out the Army offers tuition assistance to Soldiers while they’re serving, in addition to the Montgomery GI and Post 9/11 Bills, which pay for training and education after Soldiers complete their minimum service obligations.
Tom Tillberry, president of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, said he was aware the Army offered more than just combat jobs, but he didn’t know how much money it committed toward education and training.
“They’re not just preparing Soldiers for jobs, I think they’re preparing them more for life,” Tillberry said. “I was impressed with the education center and that mission and all the Soldiers that are pursuing higher education (while serving), that impressed me. Many of them had bachelor’s degrees and a master’s.”
As a counselor, Tillberry said he will recommend Army service to his students.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commanding general U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said this tour a good way to help educators fully understand what the Army offers, so they can help their students make informed decisions about their futures.
“Students are told they can choose to go to work, pursue a college degree, or look to technical education when they are planning for life after high school,” Snow said. “They don’t realize they don’t have to choose — they can do all three at the same time with the Army.”