Wichita East High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students speak to local college representatives at the Kansas National Guard Heartland Preparedness Center, April 11, 2019. The students were given the opportunity to learn about the Kansas National Guard’s partnerships within the community.

Guard opens the doors of opportunity

By Pfc. Victoria Williams
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kansas National Guard Heartland Preparedness Center in Wichita opened its doors to local high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students April 11. Display tables set up by local colleges, service members and law enforcement lined the walls of the armory. Some of the colleges that were represented included Wichita State University, Emporia State University, Newman University, Butler Community College, and Cowley College.

“I’m really excited to talk to these students about the new ROTC program being offered at Wichita State University,” said Staff Sgt. Khristopher Simpson, recruiting and retention. “I may be a little biased because I’m a recruiter and one of the instructors.”

A large group of students gathered at the armory for the Kansas National Guard Exhibition hosted by the 635th Regional Support Group. The exhibition was organized to share information with high school students on the education benefits and career opportunities available as a member of the Kansas National Guard.

“We’re just really excited to get the JROTC students out here so they can see what the Guard has to offer,” said Maj. Benjamin Gruver, communications officer, 635th RSG. “It’s really beneficial for the Guard and schools.”

Interactive displays gave students the opportunity to try their hand at ceremonial flag folding, experience virtual reality goggles and controllers that allowed players to work in a virtual duty station and a weapons simulator where they could test their marksmanship skills with M4 carbines and M16 rifles hooked up to a computer system which displayed target scenarios on a large screen.

Other opportunities emphasized during the exhibition were full tuition assistance for local colleges, part-time pay with full-time benefits, health care, insurance, and a thrift savings plan.

“College has always been a goal for me, but it’s just so expensive,” said Nevaeh Bell, a sophomore at Wichita East High School. “I was going to settle for the cheapest college and work hard for as many scholarships as I can. But I wouldn’t have to worry about that if I join the Guard.”