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Athletes Participate in Military Mentorship Program

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 5 2014

Military members and elite athletes understand the struggles and triumphs that come with striving to be Best in the World and representing the United States. The Military Mentorship Program, presented by PenFed, is a unique partnership between the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and American300 that brings veterans, active-duty service members and elite athletes together to share their experiences.

This week, MMP kicked off summer 2014 with the 2nd Bomb Wing (2BW) hosting Olympic freestyle skier Emily Cook at Barksdale United States Air Force Base in Boisser City, Louisiana. Cook and the 2BW will share their personal stories of teamwork, perseverance and reaching the limits of their potential.

“There are so many similar threads of experience and we have so much to learn from our service men and women,” said Cook. “The commitment that they display every day and their ability to overcome obstacles is incredibly impressive. I am so thankful for the sacrifice that they make on a daily basis for all of us.”

After this week, Cook will have participated in two MMP events. At the first event in Park City, UT, Cook met and listened to stories from Col. John Bates and Col. Danny McKnight. She then made the visit to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.

“Spending time with our service men and women is such an incredible experience,” said Cook. “Everyday I am blown away by the physical, mental and emotional tasks endured by these men and women during their training and I learn over and over again that I too, am capable of way more than I know.”

PenFed has been instrumental in supporting the athletes’ trips to military bases, giving the athletes and military members the opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and develop strong relationships. “Military service and Olympics and Paralympics training are both commitments that last for years and require arduous and continuing physical training,” said James Schenck, president and CEO of PenFed. "But the similarities go deeper than that. Service members and top athletes both understand that the greatest obstacles are their own fears and their greatest strength is their willingness to face and conquer them."

The Military Mentorship Program works to instill a sense of national pride. Both elite athletes and military members are representatives of the USA abroad and, through this program, they're able to learn and grow together.

“Every bit of this program has been impactful, and I have learned so much from our troops,” said Cook. “Having the time to hear about their day-to-day life is what has made the difference for me, and being able to thank them for all they have done is so important.”