The "American Grit" television reality show held a premiere of its new season on Fort Leonard Wood Thursday and a star of the show was on hand to speak with soldiers.
Former Green Beret Grady Powell, one of the stars of the reality show “American Grit,” visited the soldiers of the Company C 701st Military Police Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood Thursday, June 8.
The soldiers were treated to an advance premiere of the show’s second season at the installation’s USO building, and had the opportunity to speak with Powell about his experiences in the army. With the name of the show being “American Grit,” Powell and the soldiers discussed what those words really mean, and how grit is found at Fort Leonard Wood.
“Grit is whatever it takes to get through your issues, get through the trials and tribulations,” said Powell, who coaches a team of four on the show. They regularly compete in challenges against other teams of four, each led by their own grit-worthy coach.
Each coach boasts their own military background and work alongside celebrity John Cena to develop grit inside their team members who have either “lost their grit or never had it.” When a contestant leaves the competition, they ring a large ship’s bell, reminiscent of the United States Marines tradition of “ringing out” when a trainee leaves the program.
After the screening, the soldiers took part in a Q and A session, and used the opportunity to elicit advice on how to be a leader and develop their own grit for their future teams. Powell said he was impressed by the questions asked by the soldiers.
“People asking questions about leadership, about how to get through to other soldiers, that to me is very important,” he said. “Especially in the military community, being able to not just worry about themselves or a silly question. They’re trying to gain knowledge.”
Powell added that since he lives in St. Louis, Fort Leonard Wood is his “home base as far as states go.”
“Being here in Fort Leonard Wood is great,” he said.
The advice Powell gave came from his experience as a Green Beret, serving in the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colo. Powell was named Senior Detachment Weapons Sergeant and served tours in Iraq and Africa.
“Every day might seem a little longer than the last,” Powell said. “Getting rough? Don’t quit, ring that bell tomorrow. In the Army, you’re surrounded by your brothers and sisters, who you’re going to be around your entire life.”
Powell advised soldiers to use their military family as a resource to build themselves up and said he used the same philosophy as a coach on the show.
A common theme with the questions asked by the soldiers was how to be a strong leader, and how to grow into one.
“Have confidence in yourself, don’t be cocky, by be proud of yourself for the accomplishments you have,” Powell said. “If you fail, fail forward. Don’t see it as a failure but find a way to turn it into an accomplishment. If you want to be a leader you’re going to fail, don’t deny it but find a way to go succeed in the future.
“Rely on the people who are above you who have that experience. Rely on each other. But most importantly have confidence and put yourself through it, because you can do anything.”
The soldiers of the Company C 701st Military Police Battalion were able to walk away with advice from a veteran who has been in their position, and the support of someone who sees the grit in everything they do.
“I used to live on this installation before I joined the service myself,” said 2nd Lieutenant Lashunta McQueen. “It’s nice to have somebody come out here and see the soldiers and show their appreciation.
In regards to the grit shown at the fort, McQueen said, “To make the decision to serve our country and give back to our nation, it can be very overwhelming sometimes. So you have to find something within yourself that leads you and shows you that you did this for a reason.”
McQueen said the grit of Fort Leonard Wood is the way “all of these different personalities and cultures come together and decide ‘I’m going to build myself up to serve my country.’”
2nd Lieutenant Aaron Smith added his own remarks about Fort Leonard Wood and they way he and his fellow soldiers find and show their grit.
“With the political situations going on in different countries it can be quite intimidating and it could be quite scary to know we’re going out there,” he said. “But we have to find it within our inner selves, not only to be able to face the adversity, but we have to encourage our soldiers to face that adversity. We have to find our own grit to, not only overcome our own inner fears, but we have to encourage our soldiers to overcome theirs as well.”
McQueen summed up the night when she added, “One of the Army values is personal courage. I feel like there’s a lot of that here on Fort Leonard Wood. What you do is dig deep and find that personal courage and say this is what I want to do and this is what I signed up for. This is what I’m going to put my all into.”