Bridging the gap between the media and the military: that's the goal of a week-long conference hosted by the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Fort Leavenworth Combined Arms Center. Seventeen journalists including myself were accepted into the program because of our interest and backgrounds covering military issues.
Over the next year, WNPR is taking a closer look at the servicemembers in our state and the issues they face transitioning from military to civilian life.
It's a unique and challenging time for the military after being engaged in two wars over the last decade. Now with the President Obama's draw-down plans, thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home (or already home) after multiple deployments. But as Tom Volek, Associate Dean of the KU's J-School says journalists can do a better job covering the military by learning more about how it functions. And the military can do a better job of informing the public about its role by working with the media.
So, for the next five days we'll work towards that goal. On Monday, we will attend briefings from 800 to 1600 hours (yes I'm on military time now) We'll learn about military structure, what it takes to run a garrison or post, and we'll get an overview of the military prison and embed with Army Majors who attend classes at the Command General Staff College.
It's not all serious. On the night of our arrival, we got a walking tour of the base which really does resemble a quaint Midwestern town. The Army historian clued us in on which homes were "haunted' and we learned that influential leaders in the U.S Army all spent time at Fort Leavenworth at some point in their careers. As I write this, I'm sitting in Otis Hall's "Eisenhower" suite. According to the historian, the President was first in his class but he also spent time at Leavenworth perfecting his golf game!
Later this week, we head to Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood for a firsthand look at the life of new recruits.