SAN ANTONIO - Nearly 400 USAA employees volunteered to experience what day one in the military may feel like.
Before clocking in Friday morning, the participants were shuttled in buses to the company's grassy field where they were greeted in the pitch black by active and former military members.
The event Zero Day PT was spearheaded back in 2008 by USAA's IT director and Army veteran, Brian Parks, after employees wanted to better understand life in the military.
"Let's (allow volunteers to) experience the most critical moment when everyone serves," said Parks. "That's the arrival to basic training."
The event is designed to provide a military experience to help employees better understand USAA's military members.
"In no way, shape or form would any of our employees say to a veteran, 'I know what you've been through' because they don't," said Parks. "This is simply a dose, but it helps them to at least connect the dots."
The group was instructed by cadres whom were dressed in red shirts. Participants were put through mental and physical challenges, including successfully carrying a log as a team and a one and a half-mile run.
For most, the three hours of challenges were eye opening.
"(It was) very intimidating. (I felt) unsure, unprepared," said USAA employee Luke Harris. "I knew that we'd be taken care of but also a lot of uncertainty. (It was) pretty scary."
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Military members present said that each command and drill serves as an invitation to dig deeper in order provide a better service once they clock in to work.
Harris is aware Friday's challenge is only a small glimpse of the courage and sacrifice in comparison to those enlisted, however, it's one he will always value.
"You look at our membership, things they do, the sacrifices their families make and it really just helped me reflect on how I can do a better job day to day," said Harris.
After their run around the USAA campus, participants were greeted back on the field by the cadres with cheers and a dog tag to commemorate Friday's efforts.
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