Fulton students were recently afforded the opportunity to discuss freedom and sacrifice with local veterans during a Take a Vet to School Day event at G. Ray Bodley High School.
As a way to learn the true meaning of Veterans Day, three local vets spoke before a select amount of students in the high school’s auditorium, sharing military experiences and the difficulties they had acclimating back into the civilian lifestyle.
Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus and Congressman John Katko were in attendance for the event and discussed the importance of honoring veterans for the sacrifices they make.
Katko reminded students that a war hasn’t been fought on American soil since the War of 1812, in large part because of the dedication and commitment of soldiers overseas.
“When you see a veteran, thank them and honor them for their service,” said Katko. “You should love (soldiers) for what they’ve done to keep you safe and let you enjoy your teenage years.”
Veterans George Reed, Amanda Rawson and Chari Mayer then captivated the audience by sharing a wide array of their military experiences, including the difficulties they faced in transitioning from military to civilian life.
Reed provided a chilling example of the struggles some soldiers face after returning from war, explaining how driving his car can sometimes spark unpleasant memories.
“Coming back from Iraq… when you’re in a country like that for so long, everything around you is a potential threat, including fresh potholes in the road. Those are the things they would use to hide (improvised explosive devices),” said Reed. “So when you’re in that mindset for 12 to 14 months, it’s very difficult and never leaves you.”
Rossin and Mayer discussed their experiences as females in the armed forces, and also discussed what drove them to a life in the military. For Mayer, a catchy commercial was all it took to convince her to sign up for the United State Army.
“I saw a ‘be all you can be’ commercial, and I headed right over to a recruiting station and was shipped out two weeks later,” said Mayer. “And I didn’t tell anyone until just before I left because I didn’t want anyone talking me out of it.”
At the end of the presentation, students were provided the opportunity to ask the veterans questions, creating an interactive and informative forum for all involved.
Following the event, several students personally thanked each veteran for their service.