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Wed., Jul. 29
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Military lifestyle on display in class


Among a crowd of local residents, business representatives and public servants, Tedd Stiles went to the basics to explain the Army’s organizational structure.

“Let’s go to the Legos,” Mr. Stiles said, reaching for a series of labeled building blocks. “Which one’s which here?”

Building from the team and squad level all the way to the brigade and division level, Mr. Stiles, an Army member for 15 years, ended with two pyramid-shaped structures.

The demonstration was part of the “This is a Soldier 101” class Tuesday, sponsored by the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, Army Family Team Building and Italian-American Civic Association.

Michael T. Plummer, president of the Northern New York-Fort Drum AUSA Chapter, stressed the importance of the event given the limited numbers who serve.

“The great masses don’t know their soldiers,” Mr. Plummer said.

He spoke several times about the idea of “reciprocity of commitment,” with soldiers’ commitment to serve matched by enthusiasm from the community and local government.

In addition to providing insight on military structure, the sessions gave advice on working with veterans and National Guard members in the workplace and guidance on military operations.

It also opened a window into the formal attitudes in military culture that may come as a surprise to civilians.

K. Scarlett Sharkey, an Army wife, spoke of basic courtesies when dealing with the Army: RSVP to invitations within 48 hours, write thank-you notes, treat senior leadership with respect and use first names only when given permission. Ask ahead before bringing children to formal military ceremonies.

Mrs. Sharkey also advised conservative dress at military events.

“Look more like Meryl Streep ... and less like Lady Gaga,” she advised.

Another session outlined federal laws applicable to businesses with employees who are either veterans or National Guard members, noting service shouldn’t limit advancement and training opportunities.

Mr. Plummer said he hoped the event would inspire residents to further their learning about the military community.

“This is the first page of a book,” Mr. Plummer said. “Hopefully, it’s interesting enough they’ll keep reading.”

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