STATESBORO, Ga. – Fort Stewart, Georgia Southern University and the Georgia National Guard entered into a mutually beneficial partnership Saturday, Nov. 5 when the parties formalized an agreement to improve Soldier holistic health and fitness in Army formations.
Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez, along with the Georgia National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, and GSU President Dr. Kyle Marrero, signed a memorandum of understanding at the GSU Military Sciences Building formalizing a partnership to provide fitness support to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers.
“This is an exciting day for us at Georgia Southern,” Marrero said. “It is so important that our programs are aligned with the needs of our community and I am so proud of the fact that our public research agenda, specifically around wholeness, wellness and fitness and the tactical athlete program aligns with that.”
Marrero added this program is a win-win for all parties as the opportunity to help with the overall health and well-being of soldiers has an incredible impact on the GSU physical therapy students, as well as the soldiers who benefit from certified training that can potentially be. expanded on
Retired Army Col. George Frederick, director of the GSU Military and Veterans Student Center, explained that this program will also improve overall unit readiness within Fort Stewart ranks.
“We all know the Army faces a significant recruiting challenge, as such we believe signing this MOU will help reduce injuries and increase the readiness of our Soldiers,” said Frederick. “In the current operating environment, there is a need for the military and academic institutions to build collaborative engagements and full-fledged partnerships.”
The GSU Tactical Athlete Program on Fort Stewart has been a pilot program since April 2019, but now the program has the muscle of a formal memorandum of understanding to professionally benefit all parties.
Ramirez said the partnership improves holistic health and fitness for Dog Face Soldiers while educating Soldiers and improving physical readiness training throughout the installation. He added there are two ways soldiers can achieve a tactical athlete certificate, either online or in person through the Soldier Athlete Human Performance Program. In this program, GSU Doctor of Physical Therapy students train Soldiers, who then train their formations.
Frederick added the mutual benefit of this partnership is that GSU receives educational preparation for its rehabilitation scientists and Soldiers receive educational opportunities in the areas of injury prevention, injury recovery, sports medicine and human performance and optimization.
“Partnerships like this tactical athlete program with Georgia Southern University are truly a win-win,” Ramirez said. “Our units will improve overall readiness and the students will get experiential learning opportunities. It doesn’t get any better than that.”