FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Fayetteville State University (FSU) Chancellor, Darrell T. Allison watched in veneration as a soldier completed their expert field testing on a heavy grenade launcher during his visit to Ft. Liberty on Feb. 8.

Chancellor Allision and a team of university leaders, including four-star General (Ret.) Michael X. Garrett, FSU’s military executive-in-residence, spent a day learning about military operations and resources, and meeting with Ft. Liberty leadership to identify partnerships that enhance the lives and careers of U.S. Army service members.

FSU Military Delegation group photo after breakfast conversation

The all-day visit began with a breakfast discussion with members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team. Each service member shared stories of their life, career experiences and why they joined the army.

“Going beyond the generic term soldier to learn names, like Sergeant Stanley, getting insight into their lives is an invaluable connection,” said Chancellor Allison. “Telling service members about FSU resources that provide them with an affordable and accessible education, most notably the Free Military Tuition Scholarship, made this a successful visit.” 

Learning more about military and veteran resources at the university was promising for many of the service members. “You have to take advantage of this resource,” said LTG. Christopher T. Donahue, commanding general of Ft. Liberty.

Soldier performing pulling wounded soldier during training

A part of learning the day-in-a-life of soldier is also understanding the individual preparation and assessment for large-scale combat operations. Thousands of soldiers were testing for expert soldier, infantry, or medic designations, where proficiency and preciseness are vital, and failure means a year-long waiting period to retest.

Walking through the training lanes, Chancellor Allision witnessed soldiers in action. “We don’t want people performing tasks for the first time in combat,” one of the assessment instructors said. They had to low- and high-crawl under enemy fire and perform field rescues by removing hurt soldiers from the field of battle. The training lanes are one of the most difficult portions of the test, with 10 tasks per designation, each needing 15 to 25 steps performed in perfect succession.

“I am impressed with the skills our individual service members displayed in their craft and the total organization of the large training operation,” Allison said. “My appreciation for the work of our armed forces continues to grow, especially the men and women here at Ft. Liberty.”

Chancellor Allision and Gen. Garrett were also joined by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Alexander, FSU’s associate vice chancellor for military relations, and Cierra Griffin, Ed.D., executive director for adult learners, transfer, and military students and U.S. Air Force and Army veteran. Together, the team strengthened relationships and worked with Ft. Liberty officials to reveal opportunities for more collaboration. From the creative approach to solutions and research happening in the Airborne Innovation Lab to the one-stop resource center and Transition Assistance Program (TAP), the benefit of partnership was apparent.

“I know someone preparing to transition out of the military would be extremely interested in knowing they could come to Fayetteville State University and get a four-year degree for free,” Chancellor Allison said during a meeting with Ft. Liberty’s TAP leaders.

Chancellor Allison shaking hands with Active-Duty Alumni

At Ft. Liberty’s Iron Mike Conference Center, nine FSU alumni joined Chancellor Allison and the FSU delegation for lunch. They provided insight on enhancing the institution’s visibility with active-duty soldiers and valiant points on better ways to improve engagement.

“We’re all committed to building a stronger bridge between the university and Ft. Liberty,” said Chancellor Allison, “and today marked a new beginning, filled with opportunities that we plan to take advantage of.

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