KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Saint Patrick Catholic School students from Tacoma, Wash., came together to honor U.S. service members and their families during "Freedom Week" by holding a Veterans Day school assembly Nov. 9.
The assembly offered students the opportunity to talk directly with an Army service member currently deployed to southern Afghanistan with Washington’s very own 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is just 15 minutes south of Tacoma.
“So few of our kids understand the military and what it means to serve our country. It’s good for them to see and hear it in real life,” said Kevin Lovejoy, the parish and school administrator for Saint Patrick Catholic School. “Kids learn much more with these interpersonal exchanges than they can from a text book.”
Saint Patrick reached out to Maj. Matthew Hustead, who serves as the fire support officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd SBCT, 2nd ID, to see if he would be interested in sharing his first-hand experiences while deployed with the students to help them understand what it’s like serving the country overseas.
“(We chose Hustead) because he has two kids at Saint Pats and was very active in our parish and school,” said Lovejoy.
Aside from the chance to help educate the youth of Tacoma, Wash., this was especially important for Hustead, who has been deployed for more than seven months, since his children attend Saint Patrick Catholic School.
“I have seen photos on Facebook and the wife has emailed photos to me of various events I have missed,” said Hustead.
Hustead was excited for the opportunity to speak with the students at Saint Patrick and looked forward to offering them the chance to gain some insight into his experiences while deployed and what it takes to stay focused on his job while maintaining his faith.
“(I wanted to discuss) the sacrifices the family makes as well as the service member while deployed,” said Hustead. “I talked about our long hours and the fact that we only have a priest once a month, and we have soldiers lead weekly prayer service.”
Lovejoy hoped that as the presentation came to a close his students would have a greater appreciation of soldiers and their sacrifices.
“A little bit about the sacrifices our soldiers make to serve our country, (and) that sometimes being in the military means you have to go far, far away, that family is probably the most important thing our soldiers miss when they have to deploy,” said Lovejoy.