Fort Hood WTB Soldiers go back to school during Veteran's Day celebrations
November 30, 2012
It was all about animals, 150-degree heat and war stories minus the "blood and guts" for a group of Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade soldiers during South Belton Middle School's Nov. 9 Take a Vet to School day.
In one class, a group of students were barraging Major Eric Snyder and Staff Sgt. Thomas Courtright with questions about camel spiders. "Do they really eat camel's stomachs? Are they really several feet big?
Raising his arms, Snyder jokingly said he had seen one "this big." After the laughter stopped, Snyder and Courtright begin debunking the myths of the notorious camel spider, while Snyder segueing into his experiences working with Iraqi sheiks in resolving cultural differences.
Another student asked Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Ramsey to tell his best war story.
"I know he was expecting to hear about 'blood and guts' but I told him my best war story was helping children his age go to school in Afghanistan, explaining how hard things are for them over there. He seemed pretty satisfied with that," said Ramsey, later telling another class how important it was to do well in school if you want to be successful in life.
The History Channel's "Take a Vet to School" program began in 2007 as a national initiative to link veterans with students.
"One of our tag lines at the history channel is making history every day, and that's what we felt our veterans do because they contribute to our history and tell our story through their sacrifices," said Dr. Kimberly Gilmore, an historian with History Channel who was on hand Friday to introduce the program to the school, thanking the veterans on hand who volunteered to spend their day as the middle school.
According to South Belton Middle School teacher Donna Bownds, who brought the program to the school this year, Take a Vet to School initiative is to bring the sacrifices and service of America's veterans into America's classrooms.
"Veterans can share their stories, and students have an opportunity to honor them," she said.
Eight grader Kiana Edwards agreed: "It's a real honor for us to have the soldiers here because it shows that we respect them."
Ensuring today's youth knows about the sacrifices of military men and women in the service was one of the messages Capt. Jose DaCunha stressed during his time with the students.
"This is an opportunity for me as an American soldier to make sure our youth know the importance of our sacrifices that our veterans made for the safety of our nation. We are here collectively today to make sure we can carry that message to our youth," said DaCunha, who also told shared with the students the WTB's mission of healing and transitioning wounded, ill and injured soldiers, and his role his role as a company commander ensuring his soldiers get the best possible care.
Brooke Jacobs said shearing their stories caught her attention especially since the 8th grader's brother is in the Air Force.
"It's so important to hear these stories," she said. "It really touches my heart that they are doing these things."
Students hearing soldier's personal testimonies of service and sacrifice is priceless, according to Farrah Dunaway, student yearbook sponsor and school newspaper instructor. "There are just so many things we can say as teachers to kids before they start growing deaf ears. There's nothing like hearing the deeper, sacrificial words coming from those who have been in the trenches. I just wish we could do it more often."