As a way to link veterans with students while also teaching youth about the armed forces, Granby Elementary School recently participated in the national Take a Veteran to School initiative.
The program, sponsored by the History Channel and Time Warner Cable and coordinated by Congressman Dan Maffei, introduced students to servicemen and women of all backgrounds.
Six veterans and current service members discussed their experiences and fielded questions from fifth and sixth grade students Dec. 16.
As a sitting member of the House Committee on Armed Services, Maffei talked about the significant role that service members have in defending America.
“We want to make sure they are well equipped, supported and trained to do their job, which is to protect you, protect the country and protect your freedoms,” the congressman said. “It’s very important to know … how important their job is and the kind of sacrifices that these men and women have to make to keep us free.”
Students had an opportunity to interact with the veterans and learn a bit about the path that each took.
Some earned distinction for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their accolades included a Bronze star, Army Achievement Medals, Army Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medals and other prestigious honors.
Each fifth and sixth grade class was able to learn about each veteran during a one-on-one question-and-answer session.
Students were captivated by Command Sgt. Maj. David Inglis, who talked about his experience in the Army as a paralegal, jumping out of helicopters and why he pursued a career in the Army.
“Initially I joined because it had a great college payment plan,” Inglis said. “But when I got in, I realized I really enjoyed it, especially jumping out of airplanes.”
Inglis also discussed the importance of the armed forces, noting that a real war is much different than video games.
“In Afghanistan, it is kind of like living in a small city except you have to go to war every day and (enemies occasionally) shoot missiles at you,” he said.
The tight living quarters and unique experiences help soldiers build lifelong friendships, Inglis said.
“To be a good soldier, you have to take care of your people. There are a lot of good people in the Army,” he said.
For the students, Take a Veteran to School Day proved to be a valuable learning experience and they were able to make connections and put a face to the things they hear about on the news and read about in their history books.