FORT JACKSON, SC (WSPA) – America’s newest soldiers had the chance to sit down with some veterans ahead of their basic combat training graduation.

Friday morning, about a dozen veterans from the Columbia-area spoke with basic training soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.

They shared some wisdom and talked about their experience in the military. They also answered some questions from the new soldiers.

For Ed Hogue, the battalion means the world to him.

“The future of this country’s military is sitting in this room today,” Hogue said.

Hogue was in the Army for more than 20 years and is a Vietnam War veteran. He also served in this very same battalion years ago.

“They’re learning something. The questions they ask are important questions,” said Hogue. “If I can answer that and set them on the right path, it’s a joy to me.”

One of those soldiers was Pv2 Emoni Williams. Williams is from Louisiana and was recognized as the top soldier in the entire graduation class.

Private Williams said Friday’s conversations were impactful and reassuring. “To talk with a veteran, it feels very soothing. It has built my confidence up.”

For Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Baker, this is one of his favorite days of the training cycle.

“It gives them a sense of belonging and also a sense of appreciation for all the things they’ve experience which is really unique to service in the military,” Baker said.

The soldiers of 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment will graduate next Wednesday at Fort Jackson.

From there they will head to other military installations to continue their training.