Though it was formally launched with three signatures, a few words and a couple of handshakes, the United States Army’s partnership with Kiwanis International—now in its third year—is a critical partnership with the U.S. Army's Recruiting Command and Cadet Command as both organizations develop young men and women into future leaders.
The U.S. Army is one of three Kiwanis Vision Partners.
"It’s a great program because we are all invested in the same thing: developing leaders for America," says Ward Wood, director of the Army Recruiting Command's marketing, education and outreach programs. He said the relationship is also about giving back to America, which is a long-time Army tradition.
Colonel Michael Armstead, director of the US Army Cadet Command Marketing and Outreach programs, adds: “We look forward to continuing to work closely with Kiwanis to pursue our common goal of molding our nation’s next generation of leaders. Our Army ROTC staff at our university-based programs across the country will be working in synergy with Recruiting Command personnel and with the local Kiwanis leadership to make this happen.”
“Those of you who wear this uniform—and represent all that uniform stands for—think highly enough of Kiwanis to be our partners. We appreciate that,” says Kiwanis International Executive Director Stan D. Soderstrom when the partnership was signed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 2012.
Since that signing, more than 100 recruiters have supported Kiwanis activities, attending Key Club, Kiwanis and Circle K events. And recruiters who have witnessed Key Leader weekends are enthusiastic about the experience.
A recruiter in Grass Lake, Michigan, says he and his team made a big impact on the students at the Key leader Camp there, demonstrating that anybody can take the lead.
A recruiting company commander supporting a Key Leader Camp in Hot Springs, Arkansas, says the events “build goodwill within the community and shows that the Army is willing to invest time and resources into developing leadership attributes in young people.”
A Colorado recruiter enjoyed the interaction she and her team had with students from all over Colorado and Wyoming at the Windy Peak Key Leader Camp. The students are all leaders in their schools and communities and return from the camps with a fresh perspective of soldiers and positive opinion of what it means to serve in the Army.
Recruiters and Army ROTC staff supported about 40 Key Leader camps through the 2013 year, and Wood is enthusiastic about continuing to find new ways to partner with Kiwanis. The Army, he says, is intent on showing that the development of future leaders is a shared responsibility.