The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support helped students at a local elementary school gain a deeper understanding of Veterans Day during an event Nov. 7 in Philadelphia.
Thirteen Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support employees and military personnel participated in a Gilbert Spruance Elementary School event, reading Veterans Day themed books and discussing their military careers and experiences to bring a new perspective to the holiday.
“It was wonderful to sit with the children and help them understand a little about what veterans have done and why they did it,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Scaricaciottoli, a DLA Installations Philadelphia visual information specialist and Army reservist, said. “One of the classes told me they just watched a movie about the Army, and that it was neat to meet a real soldier. They had a ton of great questions that made the event a lot more interesting ... I think I might have learned just as much as the students did.”
The event was separated into two portions.
Scaricaciottoli was one of ten DLA Troop Support employees who read “Year of the Jungle” by Suzanne Collins to kindergarten through third grade students to “help kids understand why we honor those who have served” according to the Read Across America program
And, of course, the children did not shy away from asking questions to their military and veteran visitors.
“I loved answering the questions the kids had … and it was great to hear some of the kids tell me about people they know who are in the military,” Scaricaciottoli said. “But the best was when one of the shy kids opened up about how he liked playing with his toy tanks. The teacher told me after I was reading that the little boy hardly ever speaks - so she was surprised at how interactive he became.”
For older students, three veterans of the Air Force, Army and Navy spoke in the auditorium to share why they joined the military, its impact on them and why the holiday is important to them. The speakers also took questions from the students and provided insights to the various opportunities that exist in the military.
One presenter, Kartinya Rodgers, a Construction and Equipment tailored vendor logistics specialist and Air Force veteran, said she was impressed by how energetic, welcoming and engaging the students were during the presentations.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, originally recognized the end of World War I and did not become an official holiday until 1938, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
After years of legislative changes and several wars, Veterans Day – as it is now observed – was signed into law in 1975 and helps maintain “a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
Just as they had their own reasons for serving, the volunteers had their own reasons for raising awareness to the holiday.
“My main reason for keeping people informed about Veterans Day is to try to reduce the number of veterans who come home after serving and don’t get the emotional support they need,” Rodgers said. “Many vets return home and they appear to be fine, but they are suffering from depression, anxiety or [post-traumatic stress disorder] and are afraid to ask for help. The more people who remember Veterans Day, the more people will reach out to their veteran friends and family to make sure they are okay.”
Scaricaciottoli said he wanted to help children understand what it means to serve.
“[The children] never know if or when someone they love and care about might have to go overseas and serve,” he said. “Hopefully, events like today will help them deal with that in a positive way and really appreciate what their loved one is doing. I also hope that this will help children to look out for, and help, any of their fellow students who might have a loved one serving.”
Troop Support participated in the Spruance Elementary event through its Adopt-A-School Program. The program is a community outreach initiative that started in 2018 and provides support to the school through various engagements.
“I was proud to represent DLA Troop Support today,” Rodgers said. “I think the community outreach is an awesome idea and I hope this is just the beginning. Most people join the military to affect some kind of change and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves … it feels good to still be able to do that.”