Fort McCoy News November 22, 2013

Recruiting Educator/Student tour hosted at McCoy

STORY & PHOTO BY THERESA FITZGERALD
Public Affairs Staff

Zero-dark-thirty — military speak for ear-ly morning — is what high school educators, parents, and students from throughout Wisconsin experienced Nov. 6 as they traveled to Fort McCoy for a Recruiting Educator/Student tour.

The Fort McCoy Recruiting Company hosted educators and students from DC Everest, Merrill, Wausau, and Black River Falls high schools.

Photo for Recruiting tour article
Students get a firsthand look at training simulators during a visit
to the Engagement Skills Trainer Nov. 6. The students were part
of a group participating in a Recruiting Educator/Student tour
conducted by the Fort McCoy Recruiting Company.

This was the second year the tour has been offered to high school juniors and seniors, giving them a chance to observe the types of careers available in today's Army.

The groups arrived for a 9 a.m. briefing at the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy. Capt. Samuel D. Hone II, commander of the Fort McCoy Recruiting Company, asked the participants to imagine themselves in uniform as they went from site to site throughout the day.

"The sustainment training conducted on the installation is real-world training that prepares and conditions Soldiers to be proficient," Hone said. "What is shown on television and Xbox games is fiction. I want to accentuate that we are an organization of excellence and professionalism."

The day included tours and demonstrations at the Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC), Regional Training Site-Medical (RTS-Medical), Engagement Skill Trainer (EST), Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer (RVTT), and Forward Operating Base (FOB) Freedom, as well as lunch in a military dining facility.

At the MSTC, the group observed Soldiers attending the combat lifesaver course as they completed lanes training using the mannequins for the first time. RTS-Medical took the group through the on-site combat support hospital to view the look and feel of the medical emergency room and operating rooms.

Lt. Col. John C. Palazzolo, clinical coordinator with RST-Medical, told the group how a career in a medical military occupational specialty could translate into a civilian career outside of the Army.

At the EST and RVTT, students used the same hands-on simulated training tools that Soldiers use when conducting tactical training. Rounding out the tour at the FOB, the students were immersed in a field environment, walking through tents set up to duplicate actual field conditions.

Lt. Col. Daryl L. Collins, commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, Milwaukee, participated in a portion of the tour.

"The tour is a way to bring folks back to reality about what we do, the capabilities we have, and the education required to be in the military," he said. "It lets the educators know it is another opportunity for students. Not all students will go to college, and the military is an option available to them."

Jessica Westphal, Merrill High School career service director, previously attended a week-long Educator Tour at Fort Benning, Ga. She said, "It was an experience to learn all the aspects of military life and what job skills the military has to offer. The tour educated the educators."

"Students interested in a career in the military should have a chance to experience actual hands-on training to gain a broader understanding and get a close-up view of the opportunities available in the Army," she said. Westphal is the point of contact at the high school for all recruiters, regardless of branch.

Sgt. 1st Class Jack Main, Wausau station commander, said he thinks this tour will continue to grow.

"The tour is a chance for the student to test-drive the Army for a day," Main said. "Our goal is enlistment, but most importantly, education about what the military does and the jobs available."

"Last year two students enlisted based on their experiences here at Fort McCoy; this year we expect to enlist three to five students attending today's tour," said Main.

Students said the tour exceeded their expectations. One student said he attended the tour last year and wished that they could visit the maintenance shop again because it was very interesting. Another said she would like to know more of the "day-to-day" schedule of a Soldier, from the time they report to work to the time they go home. Both were considering a career in the Army.
Hone said, "The day was very successful. So much so, I'd like to conduct another tour this year. We've had interest from so many schools that we couldn't accommodate everyone with just one tour."