“I grew up just south of West Point in Bardonia, New York. As a child, I spent many weekends watching football, hockey, parades and off-Broadway shows at West Point. The entire aura of West Point captivated me. As I grew older, I began to understand what the military academy actually was about: training leaders of character for a lifetime of service to our nation. I knew as early at 6th grade that I wanted to join the Army and go to West Point. My family has always been involved in public service, from serving as police officers to volunteering at our local church; I grew up in an environment of service to others. Attending West Point and serving in the Army seemed like the natural choice for me.
Veterans Day has meant a lot more to me ever since I joined the Army, and even more so since my deployments. Veterans Day is a time to reflect on all of those who have served over generations to ensure our country remains free. It is about remembering all the sacrifices of the men and women who served, and their families as well. Anyone who has ever raised their hand to volunteer to serve on the ramparts of freedom deserves the thanks of our nation. Veterans Day is the time to do that.
If I could pick out one thing I believe most civilians do not understand about Veterans is the fact that the majority of those serving of do not want to be involved in wars. It is the veteran who has seen the costs of war first hand, has lost friends and family, and has held close the shattered families who have to continue on without their loved one. When I speak with many of the civilian students at Tufts University, they are always surprised when I say how the last place I want to be is in another combat environment. I guess many civilians assume many Veterans are warmongers and only want to be in combat. That is very far from the truth for me and many other combat veterans I know.
Lacrosse has been a vital part of my reintegration back into society after multiple deployments. I am currently serving in an environment outside of the traditional military and being part of a team, part of our growing lacrosse community in Boston, provides me that sense of camaraderie I miss about being in a close-knit military unit. Lacrosse has provided a great outlet for my entire family to be involved in the game, to cheer for our favorite MLL Team (Go Boston Cannons!) and to see some of the best teams in the country play to include the two-time DIII National Champs, the Tufts Jumbos!
The military is all about teamwork. There is no room for an individual who does not want to work as part of a team. The military trains, fights, and serves as a team. Lacrosse is the same way. You can have an amazing individual player, but if you do not have the team backing, you will not be successful. I’ve also found that both lacrosse and the military promote resiliency. The ability to take a hit, to get back up and keep moving forward. It is what we do on the lacrosse field, what we do in the military, and what we all need to learn about life. It is all about taking a hit, getting back up, and moving forward.
One final note I’d like to pass along on this Veteran’s Day. Shootout for Soldiers has been an incredible experience for me in terms of meeting Veterans in my local community and getting to introduce many aspects of military service to a civilian community that normally does not have a lot of interaction with the military. The game of lacrosse, the medicine game, is the perfect venue to introduce our veterans to the local community and vice versa. The game reaches across men, women, boys and girls of all ages, making it a universally loved game with deep roots in the New England community. I cannot encourage people enough get involved in Shootout for Soldiers in your region of the country. This is an incredible program put together by some of our best young men and women I have had the pleasure to work with. The interactions you will have with our veterans, and the memories you make from participating in a Shootout will last a lifetime!
Thanks to all of you for your continued support for our veterans, their families, and all of those who have sacrificed for the good our nation.”
Lieutenant Colonel (P)
United States Army
A Quick Note:
In the week leading up to Veterans Day, we have been sharing the stories of veterans who have played in the Shootout for Soldiers. Our hope is that these stories will cut through the one-day patriotism, big-box retail sales and hollow rhetoric that dominates Veterans Day, and instead shares the stories of our veterans from our veterans. A special thanks goes to all of the veterans who have graciously shared their stories with us.