Honoring and supporting veterans in the school community


Isabella Nardis '24

Sacred Heart Greenwich honors veterans this November.

November 11 marks Veterans Day in the United States.  Every year, Sacred Heart Greenwich thanks and supports veterans through community service and traditions.  In honor of the holiday, Sacred Heart places an emphasis on recognizing veterans in the broader school community as well as supporting female veterans across the globe. 

Upper School students and faculty gathered for the annual Veterans Day Chapel November 11.  Mr. Matthew Driskill P ’31 ’34 spoke about his experience serving as a Naval Flight Officer for the United States Navy.  Mr. Driskill has completed three different operational deployments, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  He also took part in the East Asia Contingency Operations in Japan and Korea and received three Strike Flight Air Medals for his combat operations.  In his speech, Mr. Driskill reflected on his years of service and the ways that Sacred Heart students can honor veterans in their communities.

Each year, members of the Sacred Heart community submit photos of veterans in their families.  The history department compiles them into a slideshow that the Upper School views during this chapel to honor the veterans within the school community.  Ms. Anna Wichorek, Upper School Head of Campus Ministry and Theology Teacher, elaborated on the significance of the gathering.

“The Veterans Day Chapel is intended to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the United States Military,” Ms. Wichorek said.  “Through spending time in prayer and reflection, the Sacred Heart community recognizes the courage and sacrifice of those in the armed services who safeguard our freedom.”

United States Marines carry the American flag down Fifth Avenue.  Courtesy of Mr. Ángel Franco.

Sacred Heart also works to honor and support women in the military.  There are currently 2 million female veterans living in the United States.  Women are also the most rapidly growing group of veterans and will account for 18 percent of veteran populations by 2040.  Today, women have the highest education and are the most diverse group of veterans, according to womenshealth.va.gov

During their transition from the military to civilian life, various health issues arise for female veterans.  Sixty-one percent of women suffer from either post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression.  Additionally, 30 percent of women struggle with financial stress after deployment.  Twenty percent of women also cope with physical injuries, according to woundedwarriorproject.org

One way the Sacred Heart community shows gratitude and support towards veterans is through donations.  Sacred Heart students donated feminine hygiene products to the United Service Organization (USO) and the Veteran Affairs (VA) to assist injured or ill female veterans, October 20. 

The USO provides services, programs, and entertainment for deployed soldiers.  In 2019, service members and their families visited the USO 8.1 million times.  The organization works to keep active-duty soldiers in contact with their loved ones, according to uso.org.   

The VA works to promote the health of female service members, specifically.  They run 144 hospitals, 1211 outpatient clinics, and over 300 Vet Centers in the United States for female veterans, according to womenshealth.va.gov.  The VA provides gender-specific care and services for acute and chronic illnesses.  They also assist women in overcoming muscle and joint pain, mental health issues, readjustment difficulties, and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to womenshealth.va.org.

Mr. Michael Adams P’21 ’22 served in the United States military for 23 years.  Courtesy of Mr. Michael Adams

In addition to supporting these organizations, Sacred Heart maintains direct relationships with veterans through students and their families.  Mrs. Jessica Adams P ’21 ’22  served as an Army Judge Advocate General (Attorney) for three years in active duty.  With a total of eight years of experience, Mrs. Adams remarked on the importance of service. 

“Service does not have to involve joining the military, it can be as small as making your neighborhood a better place,” Mrs. Adams said.  “Service starts at home.  You can best pay your respects to veterans by making the most of the freedoms they fought for.”

Mr. Michael Adams P ’21 ’22 served in the military for 23 years as a Sergeant Major.  He also fulfilled his childhood dreams of becoming a diver once he became a Special Forces Combat Diver in the military.  Mr. Adams reflected on the shift in attitude towards Veterans Day over time.  

“When I first joined, people’s attitudes toward those serving in the military was far different than it is today.  Oftentimes, people were not so nice to those in uniform,” Mr. Adams said.  “I truly feel that the people of the United States try much harder to be understanding and respectful of people who have served in the military today than they did in the past.”

Featured image by Isabella Nardis ’24