American Legion George Monroe Post 3 of Newcastle, Wyo., launched its Students 4 Veterans program on Nov. 14 during its monthly veterans breakfast. The program connects local veterans with high school students that help out with heavy lifting, yard work and other household chores.
The idea for the program was initiated by Post 3 Adjutant Barry Peterson after a few high school students helped him with heavy lifting around his house. “Being single and having limitations, I realized that there may be many older veterans out there who do not have the means or resources to do some tasks around their house,” Peterson said. “And being a very rural community, with 600 veterans in our county, I believed that there may be a number of veterans out there who are also isolated with no family or support network to help them.”
Upon input from his fellow post members, Peterson wrote a letter to the Weston County School District 1 board and superintendent that outlined the Students 4 Veterans program. Not only was The American Legion program supported by the board and superintendent, Newcastle High School Principal Tracy Ragland and several students started attending the monthly veterans breakfast to make connections with veterans.
“There was an immediate and strong response from the high school principal,” Peterson said. “He told me that the students and faculty became very excited about helping.”
Ragland has spearheaded the working relationship between Post 3’s Students 4 Veterans Committee, the school district staff and the students. The program has even caught on in other Weston County school districts.
Peterson said at the veterans breakfast in November, District 7 sent six students to meet veterans and identify their needs.
A phone number was set up specially for the Students 4 Veterans program for veterans, or a widow of a veteran, to call if assistance is needed. The American Legion relays the specific needs of the veteran to the high school principal, who then initiates the support of students. “We are here to help our veterans,” Peterson said.