LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A retired three-star general, along with his team of skilled instructors, gave a gym full of the nation's next leaders a lesson on ethics.
After serving 35 years in the Army, retired Lieutenant General Mike Ferriter decided to bring hands-on leadership through skills learned in jiu-jitsu to groups around the country. One of those groups is high school students.
Year round, Ferriter and his team travel around the country teaching students the importance of how to control themselves during a fight, how to respect personal space and the brain power to push through life's obstacles.
Ferriter says his team doesn't spend their time going to social galas or foundation dinners. He says they confront issues affecting high school kids like harassment and sexual assault head-on by going to where the students are.
Each year, 4,200 children take their own lives after dealing with a variety of social issues like bullying. That's why Ferriter and his team are on a mission to change America through inspired leadership.
"It just rips you apart that we lose a youngster because they're fighting with some issue. Some people may think it's small, but if it was that small why did they take their life," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice.
Rice is an instructor with the Ferriter group. He says this seminar isn't just for kids being bullied, but for the bullies as well.
"If we can touch one that's out here doing the bullying and let them really see the impact that they're having on someone else's life, and teach them about respect, teach others the way you want to be treated. If it can make a difference in one or the other it's a win-win," said Rice.
Even though this is the second year the Ferriter group has held the jiu-jitsu seminar at Lawton High School, Ferriter says he's already seen how they are making a difference in the students' lives.
"One of the girls from this school went to the jiu-jitsu academy locally and went in there the day afterward and said, 'I was thinking of killing myself, I was being bullied a lot and after that seminar I feel really strong. I think it saved my life,'" Ferriter recalled.
Ferriter says he holds these seminars year round. Friday, the group will be at MacArthur High School.
The Ferriter group also holds seminars for single soldiers, married couples in the Army and wounded warriors.