This story was originally published at http://www.thecabin.net/news/20180328/tsutsui-chosen-for-defense-program.
By Hilary Andrews
Hendrix College President Bill Tsutsui has been selected to travel to Washington D.C. this June for the 2018 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) to learn more about the nation’s armed forces.
JCOC, the only outreach program sponsored by the Secretary of Defense, is the “oldest and most prestigious” public liaison program in the Department of Defense, according to its website.
Tsutsui said he and other civilian leaders will participate in the conference from June 10-16 and spend several intense days at military bases in the Southwest states — that’s as upfront as they would be with him about locations — with that first day spent at the Pentagon for a debriefing.
He said after that all he’s been told is participants would jump on the military plane they have for them and go.
“I guess we’ll get off the airplane where they tell us to,” Tsutsui said, laughing. “I am imagining sweating a great deal in June on various military bases.”
For every day that week, he said, the group will spend time with each of the armed forces, learning through firsthand exercises to gain a better understanding of the roles and mission of the different braches of the U.S. military, their skills and capabilities and how they serve this nation.
Tsutsui said he knows very little about the military beyond what he reads in the news and, as a person who loves to learn new things, is both honored and excited to be selected— out of more than 200 nominees, around 40 were chosen — for this chance to see everything up close.
He said he “cannot begin to imagine,” what goes into defending this nation and appreciates what our service members do for us through putting their lives on the line to sacrificing time with their families.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this opportunity,” Tsutsui said.
He said he spoke with someone who went through the training a few years ago and while he said it was exhausting, turned out to be the best experience of his life.
“It looks pretty intense,” Tsutsui said. “I hope they understand I’m a 54-year-old guy and not quite ready for boot camp.”
He’s gotten the all clear from his doctor to participate and has even asked his personal trainer to amp up their sessions to prepare him for the week, Tsutsui said, laughing.
All jokes aside, the university president said he hopes he can bring back lessons learned during that experience that would make him a better leader at Hendrix and as a Conway community member.
According to its website, the initial JCOC concept was established by Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal in 1948 and took place over 10 days with 60 participants.
The program has gone through several redesigns but in 2010 it was altered to increase participant’s time with the troops by focusing visits to military installations across the U.S.
“The mission of JCOC is to increase public understanding of national defense by enabling American business and community leaders to directly observe and engage with the U.S. military,” the website states.
The objectives of the week are to educate and inform those selected about the strength and readiness of the military branches through observing the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard; provide a better understanding of challenges service members and their families face; and providing the public a chance to learn more about national defense policies and programs through the eyes of the leaders with firsthand experience.