Throughout the 2017 spring semester, the institute worked with the sophomore class of K-State’s First Scholars program. Partnering with the Soldier Family Assistance Center, or SFAC, we had two opportunities to host dinner with soldiers and families from Fort Riley’s Warrior Transition Battalion, or WTB. The institute provided a catered meal and students learned the history of SFAC and the WTB. Fort Riley is home to one of 14 SFACs, and the WTB at Fort Riley supports soldiers from eight states, including Kansas. The students served dinner and interacted with soldiers and families in attendance. As the evening concluded, one soldier shared that he looks forward to these events as a highlight of his week and he tries not to miss the dinners. It was a realization for some students that not everyone has a strong support system. It was a memorable experience and a great way to connect students to families and soldiers.
On March 10, 2017, the Combat Aviation Brigade, or CAB, invited students from K-State’s Quest Freshmen Honorary and First Scholars program for a day at Fort Riley to get an inside look into a soldier’s life. The day began with a tour of the CAB, including opportunities for K-State students to see Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, and observe an aircraft remotely piloted by soldiers on the ground. After lunch, the group toured soldiers’ barracks to see how they live on a day-to-day basis. The students were struck at how the average dorm room differed from a room in the barracks. After visiting the barracks, the students went to Victory Park at the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters. A guest speaker described what each part of the park represented, saying the park was designed to honor and remember fallen soldiers. The group then had the opportunity to meet with Brig. Gen. Pat Frank, 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding general and Fort Riley acting senior commander. Frank emphasized how unique and remarkable the partnership is between Fort Riley and Kansas State University in promoting and improving the lives of the soldiers and their families. The group then toured some of historic Fort Riley and learned about the U.S. Cavalry and Custer House, ending its day with CAB flight simulations.
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