Copperas Cove High School foreign exchange student Joe Garabedian marveled at the might of the American military. As Fort Hood soldiers from the 3d Cavalry Regiment demonstrated their warfighting equipment, the foreign exchange student from Lebanon stayed back to examine each piece even after others attending the demonstration had moved on. Garabedian’s home country benefits heavily from the might of the U. S. military.

According to federal documents, the United States supports the Lebanese Armed Forces in its fight against Hezbollah both financially and with weaponry The Obama administration doubled its arms sales to the LAF between 2016 and 2017. More than 3,000 LAF soldiers trained in the United States in 2017. In 2019, the U.S. delivered equipment valued at $14.3 million, including night vision devices, radios and more. This followed $16 million worth of laser-guided precision missiles and six drones costing $11 million.

Garabedian and other Copperas Cove High School students spent a day on Fort Hood through the program “A Day in the Life of a Soldier.”

CCHS student Hailee Thompson said soldiers stressed the importance of getting an education and showed the students how their education is used in real world scenarios.

“We are shown the math formulas used to create firing solutions and learn how to plot things on a map. Students are also shown scientific methods used by the military as well as medical methods used to save lives in combat,” Thompson said.

The program is offered through the Fort Hood Region Initiating Educational Networks and Developing Support Systems, also known as FRIENDS Program. It provides both local and foreign exchange students an opportunity to visit and interact with soldiers and develop leadership skills. Students participating in the program travel to Fort Hood, where they are shown what it means to be a soldier.

At Copperas Cove High School, the FRIENDS program is under the advisement of CCHS Student Services Director Amal Baty.

“For the past few years, students from ninth through twelfth grades have been enjoying the culture of the military life on Fort Hood,” Baty said. “The FRIENDS program opened the possibilities of following soldiers and experiencing what they go through on a daily basis to prepare to defend our nation. It is an awesome program of which I am so proud to take a few of our high school students to be a part of.”

Working with their military sponsors, students take part in training exercises as well as perform community service projects. CCHS students have completed projects such as painting recycling bins on the military post and planting flowers to beautify the military community.

“We have also learned about the gear and equipment used by soldiers and had an opportunity to shoot spears and to visit actual training simulators,” Thompson said. “We also also learn about the many opportunities the military can provide.”

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