Veterans Reach the Hearts of Hundreds

Three veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and three veterans from the Vietnam War, also the representatives of Veterans from Foreign Wars (VFW), shared their stories on stage during the entire event. After the presentation was over, these six individuals were invited to the black box for lunch with the Wounded Warrior club members.

Julia Kim, Editor-in-Chief

Three veterans from The Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom – sergeant Keola Kapono M. Enomoto, staff sergeant Carlos Garcia and combat veteran Thomas Woods – shared their service stories with an audience of roughly 400 students from both Portola and University High Schools in the theatre on Feb. 16, by the Wounded Warrior club.

“The veterans that we have here today are coming over from the Veterans from Foreign Wars (VFW) post. What VFW does is it gives these veterans who are struggling with things like PTSD or other things in general mental support or physical support,” club president and junior Amulya Chava said. “They do a lot for these veterans but the one thing is that they don’t get much contact with younger people like us. So when they get the opportunity to come to schools like this, they really appreciate it.”

The presentation encompassed each veteran’s personal sentiments and stories from the war, illustrating the importance of honoring veterans. From last year’s event with World War II veterans, the Wounded Warrior club has grown significantly with an increase of over 100 attendees at this event.

“It’s really very cathartic to speak about the things I’ve been involved in; it really keeps me focused,” staff sergeant Carlos Garcia said. “You guys are the reasons I do this because it motivates me. You always hear such negativity coming out of the media about this generation and the young kids, but I believe that’s not true.”

Followed by a panel discussion with history teachers Jon Resendez and Wind Ralston, the representatives of the VFW presented an award to club adviser Jeanne Jelnick, along with a check of 300 dollars, which Jelnick and Chava announced would be used for the Wounded Warrior project.

“Nothing is simple: war is not good; war is not bad,” Jelnick said. “It’s hugely inspiring and educating. The takeaway for any adult or student attending is the same. I think you unquestionably leave with heightened respect for individuals who serve.”