Hebron students honor military personnel
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Thu., Nov. 15, 2012
In what has become a tradition at Hebron Elementary School, students held a Veterans’ Day assembly on Nov. 9, honoring local members - both active and retired - of the five branches of the United States military. The assembly was the culmination of activities which included talking about the military and its role, learning about the history and meaning behind Veterans’ Day, and sharing personal stories about loved ones and friends in the military. Students were encouraged to invite military personnel to the school, where they shared stories with students, were treated to a reception, and played the role of honored guests at the afternoon assembly.
Participants in the assembly included Hebron resident Thomas J. Sousa, Jr., a member of the Board of Finance and retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army, who offered an overview of the five branches of the U.S. military. There are approximately 2.8 million members of the five branches currently, said Sousa, with roughly half of those members currently in active duty.
A favorite feature of the assembly for many students and soldiers alike is the singing of the military theme songs. Military personnel were asked to stand, group by group, as students performed each of the five signature songs: “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” “The Marines’ Hymn,” “Wild Blue Yonder,” “Anchors Aweigh,” and “Semper Paratus” (Coast Guard).
According to the United States Census Bureau website, in 2011 there were 21.5 million veterans in the United States. 1.6 million of those veterans were women and 9.2 million of those veterans were over the age of 65. At the other end of the spectrum, 1.8 million were under the age of 35; 7.5 million served during the Vietnam era; 5.1 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 1.8 million in World War II (1941-1945); 2.4 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 5.4 million in peacetime only.
The website says that 26.3 percent of veterans 25 and older held at least a bachelor's degree in 2011, as compared to 28.5 percent of the total population; 92.3 percent of veterans 25 and older held a high school diploma or higher in 2011, compared with 86 percent of the population as a whole. The annual median income of veterans, in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars, was $35,821, compared with $25,811 for the population as a whole. Also, 3.5 million veterans have a service-connected disability rating, with 810,245 holding a rating of 70 percent or higher. Severity of one's disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent and eligibility for compensation depends on one's rating. The census states that 71 percent of U.S. veterans cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election.
According to a U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs blog site Nov. 2 article (www.blogs.va.gov), “The unemployment rate for all veterans was 6.3 percent - well below the national average of 7.9 percent,” according to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics release. “For post-9/11 veterans, the rate was 10 percent.” According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, “67,000 former service men and women were homeless on a given night in 2011, as estimated by the VA.” Veterans have “high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma, which can lead to higher risk for homelessness,” reads the site (www.usich.gov).