DeKALB – Brick Schiola-Williams, 14, an eighth-grader at Clinton Rosette Middle School, used to think there were only a handful of opportunities when you enlist in the military.
“I thought you could just be a soldier or an engineer or something else,” Schiola-Williams said. “I had no idea there was such diverse career options.”
This was one of the many misconceptions about military service local veterans tried to clarify during a special Veterans Appreciation Day the middle school organized Thursday ahead of Veterans Day on Saturday.
Each veteran met with multiple classes and answered any questions students had about their service.
Jesus Arteaga, a retired petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy, was a medic during his service and told a classroom that it’s important for him to check on his fellow veterans frequently because of the growing suicide rate.
“It’s important for us to check up on each other, just to make sure they know they’re not alone,” Arteaga said.
Students asked a range of questions from how much money servicemen make to whether their family was apprehensive when they enlisted.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Wentz, an infantryman who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, said his mother had been pretty apprehensive about joining but she now is his biggest fan. He added that he never has regretted his decision to enlist.
The day at Clinton Rosette closed with an assembly, where the school’s band played taps and a medley of anthems from each branch of the armed services.
DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said each district school held or will hold some type of Veterans Day appreciation event Thursday or Friday.
Elementary schools were making cards for veterans, and some schools showed videos of veterans talking about the importance of the day of remembrance, Craven said.