The Patriot Foundation held its biannual Corporate Leaders Visit at Fort Bragg, June 22. The goal of the event is to familiarize business leaders with everyday life at one of the military’s largest installations, said Mike Girimont, member, Patriot Foundation board of directors.
Attendees met with Fort Bragg leadership and members of Survivor Outreach Services before visiting the 3rd Brigade Combat Team compound.
Through static, tactical and team displays, 3rd BCT paratroopers demonstrated their lethality and the demands of their profession. The importance of the exhibition was not lost on them.
“They (visitors) get a feel for what we’re actually doing, and not watching a poorly-made movie about it,” said Spc. Alexander Vickers, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division.
This is the exact reason the Patriot Foundation holds these events, according to Girimont.
“It’s the need to introduce the general public to what actually goes on at an Army base,” he explained. “Such a small percentage of the American population has ever served, and even with the close proximity to the base, they really have no idea what’s going on here, so this is our opportunity to demonstrate to them what goes on at the base and the potential dangers of the occupation.”
The visitors interacted with Soldiers, asking them questions about certain weapons, or how fast a MRZR off-terrain vehicle could go. Caleb Benenoch, an offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he had learned a lot about the community at Fort Bragg, including details not usually seen from the outside world.
“Getting to understand what these guys go through with their Families and their lives, how much you’ve got to move and losing loved ones, it’s really opened my eyes … they’re really dealing with life and death situations. They’re putting their lives on the line for us and … they’re still just really great guys,” he said.
U.S. Navy Capt. (retired) Chuck Deleot, Patriot Foundation president and chairman of the board, concurred. He said the visits give attendees a real grasp on how exceptional Fort Bragg Soldiers are and why they matter.
“They’re smart, they’re incredibly well-trained, they’re motivated, tremendously physically fit and they’re role models in our nation.”
The Patriot Foundation seeks to honor these heroes by providing scholarships to the children of service members wounded, injured or killed in the Global War on Terrorism. It is an all-volunteer organization, and provides between $500,000 to $600,000 per year in scholarships. The foundation works with other nonprofit organizations on Fort Bragg, who identify and select appropriate recipients for the funds.