By RACHEL PONDER, APG NewsNovember 24, 2009
Two Soldiers from the Joint Personal Effects Depot visited Saint Joan of Arc School to speak to students on Nov. 10 in honor of Veterans Day.
The Soldiers, Sgt. Mayra Maldonado and Sgt. 1st Class Chester Craig, said that JPED has had a partnership with the school since 2007, and Soldiers frequently volunteer at the school. The school, located in the city of Aberdeen, has a number of students in military Families.
Maldonado and Craig talked to students in kindergarten through seventh grade about the history of Veterans Day, answered questions for students about life as a Soldier, emphasizing the importance of education in a military career, and encouraged the students to stay in school.
"The Army operates some of the highest technical equipment in the world," Craig said. "If you are thinking about having a career in the Army, you need to study hard while you are in school."
Craig added that more Soldiers in the Army are obtaining college degrees while they are in the military, especially if they are planning to stay in the Army long term.
"You can only go so far in the Army without a college degree," Craig said.
Maldonado and Craig said that while military life can be difficult, there are also many advantages to serving, including obtaining a free college education.
"My favorite thing about serving in the Army is the camaraderie, getting to know my fellow Soldiers," Craig said. "Teamwork is important."
Maldonado said that her favorite thing about serving in the Army is that it encourages her to remain physically fit.
Maldonado, who has been in the Army for nine years, and Craig, who has been in the Army for 25 years, said that they have enjoyed the traveling that comes with a career in the military.
Craig said that he has lived in 11 different states and has been to 36 countries, including going to Iraq 11 times throughout his career.
Craig said that United States Soldiers are helping the Iraqi people obtain freedom.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building schools so that the children can have an education, just like you, he said."
Craig said that whenever he travels he tries to learn as much as he can about the culture, by trying their food, learning their language and talking to the people.
"I got to travel a lot in the Army and it was all free since they sent me there," he said. "I like learning about local cultures. Most people are like us once you get to know them."
SJA teachers thanked the Soldiers for speaking to their students.
Lou Mabe, SJA's kindergarten teacher, presented the Soldiers with Thanksgiving cards made by the students for any Soldiers unable to go home for Thanksgiving.
"We have many military Families at SJA," she said. "We understand the difficulties that military Families go through."