Know Your Military

Community Leaders Meet America's Military

July 2, 2019 | BY David Vergun

The Defense Department is hoping to educate the American public about who their military people are, what they do, and why they serve. One of the ways DOD is doing this is through the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, which took place June 23 to 29.

Because only about one-half of 1% of Americans are in the military, fewer veterans are around now than in earlier generations to tell the military story and what it means to serve, said Kim Joiner, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for strategic engagement.

A civilian meets with service members.
Conference Visit
Tony Siragusa, a former NFL defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, meets soldiers during a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visit to Fort Carson, Colo., June 25, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Lee
VIRIN: 190625-N-WA993-002C

JCOC is the secretary of defense-sponsored outreach program that enables American business and community leaders to have a full immersive experience with the military. Several dozen attendees visited military installations across the United States to learn more about how the men and women of the armed forces are contributing to national security.

This has been the best action-adventure experience we have ever seen."
Laura Teclemariam, senior lead product manager, Electronic Arts, Inc.

Hiro Rodriguez, head of strategy for Prefect Technologies Inc., and other JCOC participants got to visit soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division and 10th Special Forces Group during a June 25 visit to Fort Carson, Colorado.

"The most impressing thing for me was seeing and spending time with the individual people or boots on the ground," he said. "This was a most special event for all of us. I know I speak on behalf of everyone from JCOC: I just thank you for your service," he told the soldiers.

A civilian tackles the obstacle course.
Obstacle Course
Hiro Rodriguez, head of strategy for Prefect Technologies Inc., tackles the obstacle course at Fort Carson, Colo., June 25, 2019.
Photo By: Army photo
VIRIN: 190625-O-ZZ999-001C

"The fact that so many soldiers here would be willing to die for my 2-and-a-half-year old son that they've never met," he continued. "I know I'm not the only one feeling this emotion. Every one of us from the JCOC is grateful for not only you who have served, but those who have lost dear family and friends to protect us, our children and future generations."

After visiting the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen off the San Diego coast June 27, Valerie Patton, senior vice president of Inclusion and Talent, commented: "All of these wonderful people are keeping us safe; on the water, in the air."

People on deck of cutter watch helicopter.
Cutter Aspen
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participants visit the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen off the coast of San Diego, June 27, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Lee
VIRIN: 190627-N-WA993-001C

She then recited the Coast Guard's motto: "Semper Paratus," which is Latin for "Always Ready."

"Never in a thousand years did I know you did all that you do," she told the crew.

After seeing Navy SEALS training June 27 at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, California, Marc Otte, a novelist whose pen name is Marc Cameron, said of the sailors: "I think the word 'awesome' is overused in our speech today, but that's the first thing that comes to mind. This may sound silly, but I feel good about the future of our nation when I see the trainers and students going through."

Men carry inflatable boat.
SEAL training
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participants try their hand at SEAL training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., June 27, 2019.
Photo By: Alan Ortiz, DOD
VIRIN: 190627-D-MS736-001C

After visiting Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, June 26, Laura Teclemariam, senior lead product manager, Electronic Arts, Inc., remarked to the airmen: "We are amazed at the great work you do for our country and how you serve us. This has been the best action-adventure experience we have ever seen, and I definitely would say that it definitely helps me to take our outside perspective and see how we can help our military. These are memories we'll never forget."