AU Innovation Research Task Force addresses misperceptions about military service

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

With less than 1% of the U.S. population serving on active duty—and trending lower—it’s not surprising that fewer Americans know someone who is serving or often have misperceptions about military service.

Using this statistic from the Department of Veterans Affairs as the “why” for the need to do something, a group of Air War College and Air Command and Staff College students held an event recently to connect a small portion of the civilian population with the military, while imparting invaluable leadership lessons in the process.

The event was the Brewbaker Middle School Outreach Day on April 18, 2023, for 7th and 8th graders from the Montgomery public school.

The Outreach Day was the culmination of a months-long collaborative effort between the Montgomery Public Schools, Air University Innovation Office and the Air University Innovation Research Task Force, a two-term elective for the group of AWC and ACSC students who planned the event, sponsored by the innovation office.

“Our task force sought to build better connections with the American people. In this case, middle school students,” said Col. Jonathan Varoli, AWC student.  “The key objective of the project was to build these needed connections by partnering with the local school district, which also allows schools to fill educational objectives by leveraging the skills and experiences of military members in their community.”

The day’s events started with a leadership- and team-building activity on Maxwell. The group of 13 Brewbaker students then met at the base’s Air Park where they engaged in discussions about aircraft technology and Air Force heroes such as Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. and 1st Lt. Karl Richter. Lessons on conflict resolution and respecting different viewpoints rounded out the day at the MGMWERX office in downtown Montgomery.

 The leadership, conflict resolution and communication lessons made an impact on the students.

"Communicating is something that we should do more often, because it helps us understand more," said Brewbaker student Desheya Williams.

"Teamwork makes the dream work, and I learned that it is ok to be different," added Brewbaker student Morris Provo.

While this engagement was a one-time event, the AWC, ACSC and AU Innovation Office expressed interest in deepening this relationship by having recurring events, as did Brewbaker officials.

“Thank you so much for an amazing opportunity for out students,” said Dollie Jones, Brewbaker student counselor. “They returned to school excited and feeling more ready to lead. We look forward to continued collaboration and partnerships.”