MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Building relationships to help increase awareness was the focus for U.S. Army Recruiting Command leaders when they spent three days with community leaders here last week.
Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen and Command Sgt. Maj. John Foley, the USAREC command team, met with the governor of Minnesota and other key community leaders Sept. 1-3 to help the new Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion commander increase support for U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve recruiting efforts.
“This is our first time being on the ground in Minnesota for an extended period of time,” Vereen told Gov. Tim Walz during a virtual meeting Friday morning just before the command team headed back to Kentucky. “This is a very friendly state, and everyone has been very thankful to those who serve. We are invested in making Soldiers who will serve our country and then come back to Minnesota to contribute here.”
Walz shared his own military service experiences, having joined at age 17 from a small, mostly white community. He said the Army taught him about diversity, and he was proud to see that leaders in the Army were chosen because they were good leaders, not because of the color of their skin or where they grew up.
“The Army is the best force for equity that has ever been seen,” Walz said. “These are some of the most well-educated, most diverse forces you will find.”
Vereen told the governor about some of the other visits he and Foley had over the two days prior, to include meetings with Dr. Michael Baumann, the superintendent of Lakeville Area Schools; P.J. Hill, a former professional basketball player who now works as a financial advisor and community leader advocating for social change; Eddie Frizell, chief of the Metro Transit Police Department; Donald Ritchie and Eric Ahlness, both Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army; and Christie Nixon and Steven Carter, who serve as U.S. Army Reserve Ambassadors.
Throughout these meetings, Vereen and Foley were able to discuss the importance of creating awareness of opportunities to serve, so young people in Minneapolis can understand all of their options and make informed decisions about their future. To do this, they requested community support for access to schools, support for the Partnership for Youth Success Program, and partnerships with the local Army recruiting offices.
The USAREC leaders said the visit was a step in the right direction to help Lt. Col. Lucas Yoho and his team at the Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion develop a support network that can have a positive impact on recruiting in the area. Yoho agreed.
“It’s about educating our local leaders about the opportunities the Army has to offer our young men and women,” Yoho said during the meeting with the governor. “We want to show them there is a path to success for each student, and it isn’t the same for each person. We want those young people to have the opportunity to find success in life, and the Army can be a waypoint for them. It’s not the endpoint.”