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NEWS | June 9, 2017

West Point cadets learn about Army Environmental Command through sponsorship program

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Two cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., considering career options gained valuable experience and knowledge from members of the U.S. Army Environmental Command during a three-day visit to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in early June.

Cadets Naquore Davis and Kimi Walker, incoming second-year students at West Point, were at the U.S. Army Environmental Command Headquarters from May 31-June 2 through the Individual Advanced Development, or IAD, program at West Point, which gives cadets the opportunity to gain educational experience with what they learn in the classroom at any Army unit, command, agency or department in the U.S. and throughout the world that participates in the program.

Each year, the Army Environmental Command participates and sponsors cadets in the IAD program. The sponsorship allows the cadets to learn about the Army Environmental Command and its programs.

Walker said being at and with members of the Army Environmental Command was a unique opportunity, corresponding to the field she is studying at West Point, which is environmental engineering.

“It’s mostly about learning and absorbing as much as I possibly can,” Walker said. “I think this is a great learning opportunity to get my feet wet in the Army Environmental Command and in the different environmental programs.”

Davis, who like Walker is an environmental engineering major, said being assigned to the Army Environmental Command through the IAD program fits into his career plans of becoming a civil or structural engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“There’s so many jobs and stuff here that revolve around what I want to study at West Point,” Davis said. “You have that ability to go into this field and directly use what you learned in school, and it applies directly to your job. I get the benefit of matching what I want to learn as well as taking advantage of a rare learning opportunity.”

After their stay at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, the cadets got to accompany members of the Army Environmental Command compliance staff on an Environmental Performance Assessment and Assistance System, or EPAAS, visit at Fort Benning, Ga., from June 5-9.

Dr. William Miller, Army Environmental Command entomologist, said an EPAAS visit is conducted to determine if an Army installation is following state, federal, and Department of Defense environmental guidelines in several areas, including water, storm water, hazardous materials, natural resources and cultural resources.

Miller said the cadets provided the Army Environmental Command with a biography, which provided their areas of interest. Based on that biography, the cadets were pared with members of the Army Environmental Command who were working in the area they were interested in, particularly during the EPAAS visit at Fort Benning.

Walker said anything the Army Environmental Command was inspecting and looking at during the EPAAS visit, the cadets would be able to accompany them on.

During his time in the IAD program, Davis said he learned that the Army Environmental Command has members in several career fields and areas that work together to support the Army’s goals, including training to fight, readiness and sustainability.

“I definitely learned that this field, this branch has such a big impact on everything that goes on with the Army,” he said. 

Walker, who is considering becoming a helicopter pilot, said environmental protection will have an impact on any Army career she chooses to go into.

“I think the whole environmental aspect really does touch upon everything and it does touch upon the safety aspects that come along with aviation,” Walker said. “That to me is the big picture. Whether if I do end up flying helicopters or go to field artillery, it’s still going to be something that’s relevant and something you need to think about, mostly because there are so many rules and so many things you have to be aware of.”

Walker said she planned to take what she learned at the Army Environmental Command and apply it to her classes at West Point. Also, Walker said she will share what she learned with her West Point peers and show them how they can apply it to their future Army careers.

Members of the Army Environmental Command were always willing to share what they knew with the cadets, said Davis.

“The people are great, very friendly and very passionate about their work, which is always great to have,” he said. “There are so ready to give information on what they do and how they do it. They are always ready to give you their side of what they do and how they do it.”

By going through the IAD program, Miller said the cadets now have an understanding of what the Army Environmental Command does, which will help them when they start their military careers.

“It’s nice to see young cadets who’ll become officers take an interest in environmental programs,” Miller said. “They have an awareness of what the environment is and how our actions impact it.”