What Does A Veteran look Like?
I’ll be the first to admit that when I think of the word veteran, I envision an old man wearing a ball cap that has Vietnam Veteran embroidered onto it or a wounded warrior who lost a piece of them while overseas.
I didn’t do anything notable or courageous or get the opportunity to deploy. I took a different path of service & served in both the National Guard & Reserve. I didn’t even serve as long as I wanted to or achieve milestones because I had to get out due to personal reasons.
Who wants to hear about an army paralegal? Does anyone even know what a 27D does?
What I had to remind myself is that everyone’s role is important & we all play a part. What is also important is what we do AFTER our service & our job is to teach the next generation about those who came before us & inspire the next generation of patriots—
Earlier this year, I read a post on LinkedIn that challenged women veterans to talk more about their service to help change the perception of what a veteran looks like.
So, today I went to my daughter’s second grade class to read a book about veterans.
We did so much more than just read a book:
- We talked about all 5 branches & what each of the branches do & how we work together to keep America free.
- I passed around pictures of myself & other servicemen & women that I served with for 8 years.
- They got to learn what a challenge coin was, how you get them, & why they are numbered.
- They got to touch ribbons, see certificates, hold unit patches & ranks.
- I got to talk about how the military has changed from all volunteer to a draft. From women only being nurses to only accepting men in combat roles to having integrated units & women combat pilots like Senator McSally.
- I got to talk about how my job in the army prepared me to help other veterans & help my boss in Congress make laws.
- We talked about how my daughter & I volunteer to lay wreaths with Wreaths Across America & we go row by row saying each person’s name out loud so they are remembered.
- We talked about Marc Lee, Pat Tillman, & Brian Mancini & ultimate sacrifices.
- I even had the kids write letters to veterans so I can send them to deployed troops & the state veteran’s home.
Once they learned a little more about veterans, the children were excited to share the stories of the veterans they knew. One little girl actually has her mother deployed right now! Not only did they learn about the veterans that are close with my daughter, they got to share their own stories and learn new stories about veterans close to other classmates.
Hopefully this one hour will make a little bit of an impact on them & they will have a better understanding of what veterans look like. Maybe one day, they will be inspired to join & we will be shaking their hand for their service.
Next year is your turn— contact a local school & ask if you can show them what a veteran in their neighborhood looks like.
Woman in photo is obviously not a 27D Paralegal nor is it Jessica C. Roza…