A&T Hosts U.S. Army War College Students during Return Campus Visit

By Jamie Crockett / 04/24/2024 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, History and Political Science

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 24, 2024) – A group of U.S. Army War College students and faculty visited North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to discuss resiliency, factors affecting recruitment and threats to freedom.

This second visit to campus is part of the War College’s Eisenhower Series College Program, an annual outreach program “that exposes intellectually curious university and civic audiences who have little direct knowledge of the military to men and women with significant ‘on-the-ground’ experience with national security.”

N.C. A&T Professor Earnest Hooker in the Department of History and Political Science and Army ROTC Cadet Avery Collins hosted War College assistant professor, Col. Trent Hunton, and War College students Col. Seana Jardin, Col. Donyeill Mozer and Lt. Col. Matthew Taylor.

“The U.S. Army War College is a senior service college, and each service has one,” said Hunton. “We instruct rising leaders in the U.S. Army and have a cohort total of about 400 exceptional and high-performing students in each resident class who are reaching their 18th through 24th year in service. This means they are emerging into an increasing strategic level and will go on to serve in other areas of leadership.”

Hunton said visiting A&T is an opportunity to reach out and create opportunities for “discourse and create shared understanding between populations who may not understand one another very well.”

The group participated in a brief campus tour, which included time in F.D. Bluford Library Archives with James Stewart, Archives and Special Collections librarian.

Stewart discussed and showcased many artifacts and connections A&T has with military history. He highlighted a $40,000 grant the Archives received to digitize 160 films, a few of which are from the World War II era.

“One of my favorites to show off is a reel from former dean of engineering Dr. Jerald Marteena and his wife’s collection titled ‘Tuskegee, Summer 1943,’” said Stewart. “It starts off with a group of girls playing sports on A&T’s campus, when most of the male students were overseas and in training. You can also see footage of soldiers marching on Tuskegee University’s campus, and what archivists believe is a football game with A&T.”

Stewart continued with insights that intrigued the visitors, including one of his favorite artifacts: alumni surveys submitted to Warmoth T. Gibbs, A&T’s president and first archivist, to commemorate the university’s 50th anniversary.

“The building that houses our history department bears Gibbs’ name. In fact, he was a lieutenant in France, and upon his return to the U.S., he became one of the first six Black police officers in Boston and received his master’s degree from Harvard prior to serving as a teacher and president at our university,” said Stewart, who called Gibbs a “profound historian,” before revealing renowned writer Alex Haley submitted an alumni survey to Gibbs.

The group learned about additional military and civically-engaged connections to the university, including the A&T Four’s nonviolent demonstration, which sparked the sit-in movement during the civil right movement.

Following the Archives visit, the group presented their respective topics during two afternoon sessions.

Jardin, who has served in the Army for 25 years, was most recently at the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, which a very small body that advises the secretary of defense on women’s policy.

“This program has been so fun, and is a chance for us to engage with young people,” said Jardin. “As part of my research I’ve been asking, ‘What does it mean and look like to fight like a girl?’ And it turns out, a lot of the qualities and characteristics sought out in leaders, like connectedness, trustworthiness and vulnerability, are heavily represented in women.”

Jardin noted those qualities are not typically considered “power words,” but insist that everyone should leverage and use them along with being brave and decisive to lead their organizations and diversify teams.

She also has focused on resiliency during her time at the War College, recounting to the audience the best and worst 24 hours she experienced as a young officer: going from being elated about shooting down Iraqi missiles to protect people on the ground to experiencing shock and sadness when learning her unit shot down a Navy F-18 fighter jet by mistake.

Jardin became visibly emotional when an audience member pressed for details.

“That kind of experience really rocks both an individual and organization to its core, causing you to do a lot of self-introspection,” she said. “When you have a trauma like that, you don’t really ‘bounce back,’ you can only bounce forward by being honest with yourself and others, documenting what happened and then sharing it with other people.”

This, Jardin said, is exactly what her organization did and have since changed how they train and run the organization, its equipment and software, and “is now one of the most highly sought after systems in the world.”

Mozier continued with the theme of resiliency in his presentation on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their effects on military recruitment.

“Last year was the 50th anniversary of an all-volunteer force after we stopped having the draft and we’ve had some challenges with recruiting, which is a concern for national security,” said Mozier, who is also earning a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at El Paso.

“My research on the topic of ACEs and childhood trauma has revealed that of the people between the ages of 17-24, only about 24% of that age group is eligible to serve in the military,” he said. “Those who are ineligible but want to serve don’t meet the qualifications, unfortunately, due to criminal records, history of drug use, even obesity, which are correlated to ACEs.”

People on the outside can see his success and rise from private to colonel, but Mozier called it a “miracle” for him to be in this position after he and his brother were raised between a young mom and his grandmother in poverty who experienced their own traumas. His father was also “in and out” of the criminal justice system and died of a drug overdose, and his brother died by suicide a few years ago.

Mozier referenced a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention survey that asks multiple questions to determine ACEs. When he took the survey, his results revealed he had eight out of 10 ACEs, contributing to various stressors. He began to explain the types of stress people experience: positive, tolerable and toxic. Toxic stress “affects your brain and memory, even your behavior, causes inflammation and makes you feel unsafe.”

He was able to overcome through safe, stable and nurturing relationships (SSNRs).

“SSNRs can be community organizations, mentors, grandmothers or trusted persons that can act as a buffer to help mitigate some of those ACEs people experience,” said Mozier. “I had some great mentors in the military and my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was very supportive, and when I joined the military I sought out mental health counseling. Those were all great SSNRs for me.”

Mozier said we need more programs in the community that educate about the dangers of toxic stress and ACEs.

Taylor, an Air Force pilot and one of the few to join the U.S. Army War College cohorts, recounted a time when he was “eyeball to eyeball” with a Chinese fighter pilot threating to shoot him down. He said actors like China ignore parts of international law because it has amassed incredible military power.

“I am a special operations pilot and spent most of my career overseas, which has helped gain insight to speak about how rapidly the security environment in many parts of the world has changed,” Taylor said. “Witnessing the malign behavior of actors like the People’s Republic of China who make claims over, what we all know, as ‘free and open’ international waters or international air space. I have witnessed and been a part of what it means to push back not only for the good of the United States, but for all of mankind.”

Taylor also appreciates opportunities to participate in outreach opportunities like the Eisenhower Series because he can educate people that his work is not just what movies and video games portray.

“Special operations is very good at getting into places that no one else can, allowing us to respond to natural disasters, get in there first, and open it up for the rest of the world to provide foreign humanitarian aid that will ultimately save a lot of lives,” he said.

Following question and answer sessions, the group ended their visit at the February One monument.

To learn more about the Eisenhower Series College Program, visit the website

Media Contact Information: jicrockett@ncat.edu

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