From deployment anecdotes and Sept. 11, 2001, recollections of remorse to advice about “marrying up,” Carson High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Course students on Wednesday heard firsthand from active and retired military members or law enforcement community members about the numerous pathways available to them.
With Veterans Day approaching, CHS partnered with the History Channel and Charter/Spectrum Communications to hold its first “Take a Vet to School” event. About 70 JROTC students in three panel sessions heard from local representatives who shared their missions in the different branches of the military and described their careers and lives since their service.
Panelists were able to engage in conversation with students, sharing stories of why it was important to them to enlist, some during a time when it was frowned upon for women or when keeping morale high among fellow servicemembers was important. Speakers included Marty Drumm, Navy; Vicky Fogelman, Air Force; Yette De Luca, Air Force, now a work-based learning coordinator for the Carson City School District; Ben Stryffeler, Marines, currently a Carson City Sheriff’s deputy; and Ryan Gerchman, Marines. CHS School Resource Officer Dep. Dean Williams also contributed.
CHS Lt. Cmdr. Dan Meyer, who served in the Navy, moderated the panel and explained the guests’ presence wasn’t necessarily a call to military service but an encouragement to find a passion for any career path.
Stryffeler shared his experience of being deployed to Kenya in 1998 in response to the bombings in the embassies that had occurred, and as a 20-year-old, he was recalled being thanked by someone for helping to keep her safe.
“That’s why I joined the Marine Corps,” he said. “It’s also why I’m a deputy in Carson City because you all deserve to have a safe place to grow up and learn the things you need to learn so you can graduate and go out and explore and be that next generation to make us better and then someday come and sit like us and speak to a crowd like we’re speaking now.”
The program offered by the History Channel connects is expected to reach schools in all 50 states this year. Meyer said he was pleased with the outcome.
“I really encourage you to learn more because the possibilities are endless,” De Luca said. “You can do so much as long as you just have that drive.”
Meyer served in the Navy for 30 years and retired before coming to Carson High as its JROTC instructor, where he said he was eager to put his knowledge and skills to good use training up cadets and motivating them for the workforce or the military academies if they were so interested. In the five years he’s been with CHS, the program has grown from about 100 enrolled in JROTC to a healthy 260, he said, which he credits to better educating parents about what it’s really about.
“I thought the panel today was just great,” he said. “Just watching (the students’) reactions … it’s history and it’s real, it’s not in a textbook.”
Cody Maine, 18, one of the seniors in the program, said Wednesday’s panel was enlightening and useful. He wants to study mechanical or electrical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno when he graduates.
“I thought today was pretty great because it brings into perspective the different career opportunities as well as having experience to help you make decisions later on in life, and just hearing all the different benefits and all the opportunities,” Maine said. “I just think it’s really great that we have the ability to take a path that we want, whether it be college, the workforce or the military, and make your life the way you want it to be.”