Service goes beyond the battlefield

Sasha Sears, Feature Writer

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On Monday, November 12, Americans will observe Veterans Day as offering tribute to the courageous men and women within the United States armed forces who routinely imperil their lives to ensure safety and sanction of the country.
This gratitude of service includes people who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force and Coast Guard.
A tradition the elementary, middle, and high schools in Perry Township practice is a Veterans Day Program for students and relatives formerly active in the armed forces.
On November 9th, an all school convocation will allow Perry students to invite family veteran members to attend.
As the holiday grows closer to its celebration date, English teacher Callie Enright now perceives the annual Veterans Program differently from years prior.
Her eldest child Loagin Sneed, a Perry alumnus, enlisted in the Air Force in 2016. Enright’s son graduated in December and began basic training at the spring of March.
“It was a bit of an adjustment, but dare I say a bit of a relief when he left,” Enright mentions.
He was eighteen and ready to discover his participation in the armed forces. Basic training consisted of eight intense weeks with limited contact.
“My family and I were restricted to primarily communicating through letters, Enright says. “He got to make only two phone calls the entire time.”
It was a difficult adjustment for Enright and her family to get used to. However, the long distance has now become bearable. Her son is currently stationed in a neighboring city near Atlanta, Georgia.
The family visits him on the nine hour drive to vacations in Florida and has been lucky to make a handful of trips to Georgia every year. However, Enright is balancing the coming loss of communication she will have with her son when he is stationed in Hawaii at the beginning of April. Fingers crossed, , Enright hopes to see her son at least once or twice a year when he’s stationed even farther .
“We won’t be able to see him as much,” she says. “It will be hard. Now I understand what other moms go through.”
Even having her son far away, she knows she is lucky that he is stationed in the United States and not halfway across the world.
For nine years, Enright has taught at Perry Meridian High School and sat through the Veterans Day program. Once her son joined the military, the atmosphere of the event evolved into a palpable occasion to picture her child being the first soldier and veteran in her family.
“I’ve always appreciated service members, but when he signed in, the very next Veterans Day was full of emotion,” Enright says .
While standing in the bleachers, Enright can remember tearing up at the notion that it finally felt real sitting through it all. Through what she has learned with her son discussing the people he has worked with and his deployment, her appreciation has grown for service members and families.
Both her two youngest children get excited to converse about their older brother or anyone in service. Enright’s four-year old boy loves to show his appreciation to his big brother by dressing up in his camo outfits.
Additionally, government and psychology teacher Julie Carey enlisted in the Army in the early 1990s, following suit with her grandfather’s and father’s service in the Army. A military occupation has always been in her family’s history, ranging from a grandfather in World War I to a cousin as a nurse on the mobile army surgical hospital in the Korean War.
When asked what Veterans Day means to her, Carey replies it reminds her of the transformative exposure she endured during her service. Carey didn’t anticipate what the Army would be like on her first day.
“I don’t think movies and television shows about war does the process justice,” Carey states.

Air school was one of her favorite memories. After two weeks of air school practicing jumping out of a moving aircraft, Carey felt prepared to tackle whatever assignment was next.
“I remember I was in Alaska for Northern warfare training,” she says. “My troop and I spent eight days on a glacier.”
Within those eight days, Carey was trained to haul men, women and equipment across the icy terrain, occasionally fifty feet down a crevasse.
From walking through a live agent chamber, being the security to the 1996 summer Olympics a day before the bombing and being the first woman in her chemical and nuclear warfare platoon to receive her position, Carey recalls most of how these experiences come from everyday people.
“You don’t have to be someone special to have a passion to give back and to serve for people,” Carey says.
Her tradition on Veterans Day: calling her brother and then her cousin to thank her for her service when she was alive. Carey’s brother spent over twenty years in the Army serving in the Gulf War, Desert Storm and other disputes in the Middle East.
“Those two always looked to others as the heroes,” Carey says. “I see my brothers service as being heroic. It’s important to recognize others.”