TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Employees at USAA, a financial services company for military members, participated in a basic training camp bright and early Friday morning to better understand their customers.
Before most people were out of bed Friday morning, more than 100 USAA employees started a basic training exercise. The goal was for the participants, who work with military members everyday, to connect with their customers more.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” USAA employee, Tom Migliaccio, said. “You watch the videos, you get prepped but you’re walking into the lion’s den and you’re not sure what you’re getting into.”
After being blind folded and taken to a “secret location” which was the USAA campus on Commerce Park, they started exercises before the sun came up, surrounded by fog from a fog machine. Veterans volunteered to help with the event. Brian Parks works at USAA in Texas and was active duty in the army for nine years. He military police, reserves, and a recruiter.
“Exercise just happens to be the vehicle for the lesson,” Parks said. “It’s about discipline, leadership, and teamwork.”
During the workout, a track played with chants and explosion noises. After about two hours of working out and getting yelled at by sergeants, they finished with a mile-and-a-half run.
Even though it was challenging, most participants mustered up a smile of pride at the end of the workout. Migliaccio thinks he’ll serve his military customers better after the experience.
“Just like anything else you can get great advice and training and be able to empathize but you’ll never be able to fully appreciate the circumstance until you share experience,” Migliaccio said. “I know this is a drop in the bucket but that little taste can help me understand and close that gap.”
USAA employee, Derek Norton, wasn’t too sure if he could make it through the rest of the day saying, “I may take a half day. I might work for a few hours but around 2:30 I might be sleeping at my desk.”
WFLA’s Adrienne Pedersen got a feel for the basic training too. Watch the video clip above!