STATESBORO, Ga. – Fort Stewart, Georgia Southern University and the Georgia National Guard entered 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, alongside 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’s so important that our programs align to the needs of our community and I’m 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 assist in the overall health and wellness of Soldiers has an incredible impact on the GSU physical therapy students, and also the Soldiers who benefit from certified training that can be potentially be expanded upon.
Retired Army Col. George Frederick, GSU Military and Veterans Student Center director, explained this program will improve overall unit readiness within Fort Stewart ranks as well.
“We all know the Army is facing a significant recruiting challenge, as such we believe the signing of this MOU will assist in reducing injuries and resulting in an increase the readiness of our Soldiers,” Frederick said. “In the current operating environment there exists a need for the Army 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 benefit all parties professionally.
Ramirez said the partnership enhances 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 GSU receives educational preparation for its rehabilitation science professionals and Soldiers receive educational opportunities in the areas of injury prevention, injury recovery, sports medicine and human performance and optimization.
“Partnerships such as this tactical athlete program with Georgia Southern University are truly a win-win,” Ramirez said. “Our units will improve overall readiness and the students gain experiential learning opportunities. It doesn’t get better than that.”