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The U.S. Army Convenes the 2015 Strengthening America’s Youth (SAY) Leadership Committee for a Meeting Focused on Career- and Life-Readiness

Aug 27, 2015

On July 28, 2015, the U.S. Army gathered the Strengthening America’s Youth (SAY) Leadership Committee at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA for a meeting focused on developing career- and life-readiness skills through Army service. The SAY Leadership Committee was established in 2010 to bring together a group of action-oriented leaders and organizations whose primary mission is to support and advance the success of students and young people.

The U.S. Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG), led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Marketing Mark S. Davis, convened nearly 30 national community and education leaders from around the country and senior Army leaders for a day of engaging discussions and presentations. The meeting focused on the state of and challenges facing the career- and life- readiness of today’s youth, as well as how to work together to develop and promote essential skills and training opportunities that lead to student success.

SAY members convene at Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall on July 28, 2015.

The meeting kicked off with opening remarks by Mr. Davis followed by an interactive discussion with Army leaders and SAY members on the evolving perception of the Army. The discussion included a conversation on the AMRG’s role in addressing the knowledge gap between the American people and their Army to help them understand and identify the Army as a unified, elite team, where people are making a difference.

“The reality is very few people can make the cut to join our team, but if you do, you’re part of the team for life,” said Davis.

Mr. Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing, delivers opening remarks at the 2015 SAY Meeting.

The SAY members had a chance to hear from a panel of Soldiers from various military occupational specialties (MOSs) at different stages of their career. The panel consisted of representatives from the U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC), the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) and the Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program. They discussed how the Army develops valuable professional skill sets that can relate to future career aspirations both in and out of service. All panelists noted how the Army inspires confidence, a strong work ethic, determination and leadership capabilities that are all valuable traits for prospective employers in the Civilian sector. These skills and traits lead not only to career success but success in life, according to the panelists.

Colonel Sean Gainey, deputy commanding officer, USACC, presented on USACC curriculum and developing leadership qualities. He talked about how USACC is evolving their curriculum and method of thinking to teach Cadets not what to think, but how to think. Then, Col. Donna W. Martin, deputy commanding officer, USAREC, demonstrated how Army MOSs connect to specific civilian career pathways. She discussed the perception of the Army and how it is a smarter, faster, more agile and technical force that refuses to accept collateral damage. In addition through the Army’s commitment to skills training, continued education and utilization of evolving technology, Soldiers are more prepared now than ever to join the civilian workforce.

A Soldier panel discusses professional skill set development in the U.S. Army that leads to career success both in and out of service.

The meeting’s keynote speaker was Col. Deydre S. Teyhen, system for health and performance triad, Health and Wellness Directorate, Office of The Surgeon General (OTSG). She spoke on the importance of personal health with an emphasis on the performance triad, which consists of a balance between sleep, exercise and nutrition. A strong, balanced performance triad contributes to physical supremacy, emotional resilience and cognitive dominance. Not only does the performance triad apply to Soldiers but also students and civilians, she said.

Teyhen explained how the OTSG aims to change the health of not only the Army, but the nation as a whole. Examples of how to apply the performance triad to young people include initiatives to improve nutrition in school meals and increased physical fitness programs as an essential component of the school day. She also addressed how many of the weaknesses of our nation, such as obesity and malnutrition, are manifesting in our schools. Finally, meeting attendees learned how the Army is an excellent choice for students aspiring to join the medical field for the Army offers 386 training programs, including five master’s and eight doctorate degrees. 

Col. Deydre S. Teyhen, System for Health and Performance Triad, Health and Wellness Directorate, Office of The Surgeon General, delivers the keynote speech on the performance triad and medical career opportunities offered in the U.S. Army.

After a day of thought-provoking and engaging dialogue, the SAY meeting attendees broke into small groups to discuss the current state of career readiness among today’s youth. A major topic of the discussion was the importance of project-based learning. The groups also brainstormed ways the SAY committee can share resources and find synergies in order to create a strong, lasting impact to strengthen America’s youth.

Through partnerships like the SAY committee, the Army works together with civilian organizations to solve many of the challenges our Nation’s youth face with career readiness. The Army hopes to continue playing a role in furthering education, leadership and career building opportunities for students and values its longstanding relations with education organizations, according to Davis.

To see more photos from the SAY Meeting, please visit, the GoArmy Flickr album here and keep the conversation going online, #ArmySAY.

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