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Students Stand Up On Stand Down Day

Members of Mr. Bowen’s Class Volunteer for Vets
Courtesy Photo
Students (left to right), Ethan Rychling, Riley DeForest, Rabeeh Mahmoud, Robert Martin, and Gianna Fedo help prepare food for Veterans at Stand Down Day in Rocky Hill. The phrase “Stand Down” means that Veterans are provided a metaphorical break and others, like these students, will honor them with their own service. (Courtesy Photo)

At the beginning of the school year, Mr. Bowen’s Current Events class visited the Department of Veterans Affairs Campus in Rocky Hill to provide help to veterans on Stand Down Day. 

Also on the trip was Mr. Bourquin, a teacher at E.O. Smith and a Gulf War Veteran. He served in the Marines for two years, receiving basic training in South Carolina and advanced training in North Carolina before he was stationed overseas. After being wounded by shrapnel from a cluster bomb he was discharged and deemed 10% disabled, even though he was affected more than that. He still experiences headaches, loss of hearing, and pain in his leg from his wound during his service. 

Not only does he advocate for the care and welfare of veterans, but he also volunteers his time to help his fellow veterans whenever and however he can. The goal of Stand Down Day is to provide veterans access to programs and services offered by state and federal agencies. This could mean providing health screenings, benefits, clothing, and food. In the morning, students helped in packaging lunch kits that would later be served to volunteers and veterans. Later in the day, they offered help wherever it was needed, whether that meant handing out water, speaking with veterans, or thanking them for their service. 

Many veterans struggle transitioning home from their service. It’s unfortunately uncommon for many veterans to be able to find affordable housing, services, and even employment. Stand Down Day is a chance for the community to serve those who sacrificed for us and give them everything they deserve to have as a member of the community. Many students who went on the trip learned the importance of what they were doing with one even saying, “You don’t think about what veterans have to go through for the aftermath until you speak to them.” When asked to reflect on the experience, several other students said very similar things.

This day dedicated to giving back is just a small step we can take to ensure that veterans receive the support they need and deserve after coming home. Not all veterans experience these challenges, and many successfully transition to civilian life. However, understanding the potential difficulties veterans may face can inform the development of support systems and resources to assist their successful reintegration into society. Efforts to provide mental health support, job placement assistance, benefits, and community engagement can contribute to the well-being of veterans after their service. 

A big thank you to students Shalya Beale, Riley DeForest, Emerson Dyer, Gianna Fedo, Karl Gamache, Rabeeh Mahmoud, Robert Martin, Jenna Moore, and Ethan Rychling as well as chaperones Mr. Bowen, Mr. Bourquin and Mr. Hodgson.

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