In an effort to reinforce its mission statement, a national organization dedicated to providing mentorship to Army service members and ROTC cadets along with its Washington D.C. chapter held its biannual conference from April 21-23 in Washington D.C.

The National Board of the ROCKS, named after one of the group’s early mentors, Brigadier General Roscoe Cartwright, conducted its 2016 BiAnnual Leadership and Training Conference to continue its commitment to Army mentorship through developmental guidance. Hundreds of cadets and military officers gathered to learn methods of enhancing their professional and personal paths.

The conference, an armywide diversity outreach event, focused on the professional development of attendees through presentation and discussions on key Department of Defense (DoD)/Army programs Under Secretary of the Army, Patrick J. Murphy, served as one of the keynote speakers.

Lt. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, offered seven tips on life and career to civilians and military members that would continue to improve the lives of attendees, including remaining a lifelearner and committed to education, learning to invest and manage money, maintaining a good relationship with immediate family, and securing ones faith to ensure grounded lives and emotional security.

“Years ago there were few opportunities for upward mobility that did not come through education or military service,” Earl Simms (Ret.), ROCKS chairman of the board of directors told the AFRO. “The military became an important institution for developing the necessary skills to be successful. Today, a lot of young people are unfamiliar with the military – what it offers who we are – and that is why I enjoy mentoring, so that our young people gain a clear understanding of how successful a career in the military can be.”

In 1974, ROCKS began as a D.C.-area organization. In addition to offering instruction and information to cadets, ROCKS also assists members with transitioning into the civilian sector. “The ROCKS mentoring has a focus on African-Americans, but is not at all exclusionary. We believe that by reaching out to all who are interested, and utilizing a broad spectrum of knowledge, we can engage more effectively and create better citizens,” Simms said.

Murphy was sworn in as under-secretary of the Army and chief management officer, Jan. 4. He is the 32nd officer to hold the position. To him readiness is a three-part process: individual, unit, and Army. “The Army has an awesome responsibility to the nation and the world,” Murphy said. “Veterans aren’t victims; they’re civic assets . . . they earn more, they’re more likely to vote, to coach, to participate.”