13th SC(E) Soldiers Speak to Dallas Middle School Students

Story and Photos by Pfc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th SC(E) Public Affairs Office

The unsuspecting Soldiers suddenly found themselves under a relentless barrage of questions from the junior-high school students; their hands shot up with more questions faster than the Soldiers could answer them.

“What was it like over there?”

“Is being in the Army fun?”

“Have you killed anyone?”

Those are the questions faced by Soldiers from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) during their visit to Ferguson Junior High School and Ousley Junior High School in the Arlington Independent School District March 13.

The faculty invited the Soldiers as part of a monthly program to enrich the student curriculum with speakers who have real-world experience.

“I want them to see the big picture,” said Paul Brodie, English as a Second Language Department Chair, Ferguson Junior High School, “Instead of teaching from a textbook all the time, I want them to get an idea of the real world.”

Previously, the students heard from a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, someone who had served overseas in the Peace Corps. Brodie said he wanted his students to see both sides of the aisle so he invited Soldiers from Fort Hood.

These visits are not recruitment missions, however, they are designed to be question and answer sessions to inform the students of life beyond school and make them aware of cultural differences throughout the world, said Brodie.

“The way the economy is going, the way the country is going, the way the world is going, it’s more and more important for these kids to have constant real-world contact,” said Brodie, a University of Texas at Arlington Alumnae, “They’ll have a chance to succeed if they know the opportunities available to them.”

Prior to the Soldiers’ arrival the students prepared questions. The troops introduced themselves and gave a brief bio about their experience in the Army.

“Most people don’t know anything about what Soldiers do,” said Sgt. Richard Jolliff, administrative assistant, Secretary General Staff, 13th SC(E). “This is an opportunity to give them some insight and open their eyes.

“Also, maybe we can debunk some stereotypes,” said Jolliff, who is also a University of Texas at Arlington Alumnae and a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“We’re just here to give them our part because they don’t get all the facts,” said Sgt. Richard Hernandez, command sergeant major’s administrative assistant, Secretary General Staff, 13th SC(E). “The media doesn’t tell them about building schools or anything like that, they only hear about killings and death toll.”

The Soldiers brought their Improved Outer Tactical Vests and Army Combat Helmets for the students to try on. It was an easy icebreaker.

“Kids are visual learners so they loved the body armor and helmet,” said Brodie, “That kind of stuff keeps the kids fired up.”

Once the introductions were out of the way, the speakers opened up the floor for the students to ask questions. The students had no qualms about asking the tough questions.

“Some of the things they asked about are hard to talk about,” said Jolliff. “All you can do is be honest.”

One question in particular struck a chord with the troops, “Have any of your friends died in Iraq?”

“That affected me in a big way,” said Hernandez, “You have so much camaraderie and then all of sudden you lose someone; it’s hard.”

The event provided mutual benefit for both the students, who learned about military life from first-hand accounts, and the Soldiers, who got to speak about something they love.

“It’s always nice to be able to tell your story to a captive audience,” said Jolliff.

Hernandez said, “I look forward to coming back again.”

 

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Sgt. Richard Hernandez, administrative assistant, SGS, 13th SC(E), and Sgt. Richard Jolliff, administrative assistant, SGS, 13th SC(E), demonstrate the proper way to don and doff the IOTV to students during their visit to Ferguson Junior High School and Ousley Junior High School in the Arlington Independent School District March 13.

news photo
Sgt. Richard Hernandez, administrative assistant, SGS, 13th SC(E), demonstrates the proper way to don and doff the IOTV to students during their visit to Ferguson Junior High School and Ousley Junior High School in the Arlington Independent School District March 13.