WAIANAE, Hawaii -- Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division visited Nanaikopono Elementary School on Mar. 11 to help members of the Lions Club give vision screenings to the students. The visit was part of the School Partnership Program, and gave the Golden Dragons a chance to give a little back to the community.
"I grew up in an area that needed some help," said First Lt. Timothy McCracken, 1-14 IN Operations Officer. "I remember Soldiers and members of the community coming and helping us out with projects around the school. So, I think this is really just giving back, and I think 1-14 Golden Dragons leading the way on this is a great way to have a positive influence on the community."
The vision screening was organized by the Lions Club, with members from the Ewa Beach and Kapolei branches coming out to work with the Golden Dragons to test the kids.
"Back in the 30s, Helen Keller identified Lions Club International as being crusaders for the blind, and she was also deaf-blind," said Sam Fisk, the Lions Club vision screening organizer. "So, we are crusaders for blind and hearing disabled individuals whether they are young, old, or in between. But our primary mission in Hawaii is to deal with school children, because vision is so important to the education of children in terms of their ability to acquire new knowledge and to be successful as adults."
Fisk also said that it would be difficult to make the visions screenings happen without military support.
"Many Lions are employed, so when we have a heavy schedule of morning screenings, there are only so many retired Lions we can depend on to come out on a weekday morning," Fisk said. "The Soldiers… have been very helpful to us because they fill in manpower to enable us to accomplish our mission. It is a win-win situation because it's a public relations opportunity with community service. The service men and women provide more than defense. They also provide support."
Community service like this doesn't just benefit the students, school, community, or unit. It can provide a benefit to the individual Soldier as well.
"Based off of this experience, having the community involvement will help me with my communications skills," said Spc. Brandon Russell, a medic with 1-14 IN. "Being part of the community involvement will also help me understand different people and different learning styles. And, further in my career, it will allow me to be more open to community, helping my Soldiers to be more involved as well, and allowing the force to be more of a presence in the community."