War heroes discuss the evolution of the military in the 2000s

Students in the C-11 Veterans Day Celebration breakout session had the opportunity to listen to the stories of two veterans under the guidance of Mr. Costantino.


Students in C11 listen to veterans with discussion guided by Social Studies department member, Mr. Costantino

Jess Barton, Staff Writer

Captain Lee and Sergeant Marshall are both relatively young compared to some of the other veterans and speakers who may have fought in World War II or Vietnam. A common theme throughout their discussion was military involvement during the new age of the 2000s. The two veterans were able to highlight their admiration for the military lifestyle while giving insight into what it is like for someone on a deployment overseas.

Captain Lee is from New Hampshire and joined the military in 2008 amidst the greatest trough in the recession. He was inspired by his father who fought in Vietnam in addition to the difficult employment environment in which college graduates with degrees in their field struggled to find work. Captain Lee used his engineering degree in the military by teaching Afghanis how to use bridges that the Army installed. Captain Lee is now a recruiting officer in New Jersey after being based in Missouri and Louisiana.

Sergeant Marshall enlisted in 2004, dropping out of college upon contemplating what he witnessed in the events of 9/11 as a high school sophomore. He worked as an architect, civil engineer, and tanker throughout the 3.5 years he spent in a combat zone. He is from Las Vegas but now plans to live in North Jersey and commute to work as a FDNY firefighter. Sergeant Marshall reported to students that his favorite part of being in the military was the humanitarian missions he completed in third world countries. Soldiers were tasked with teaching others “how to farm, preserve crops, and use running water” and spent 90% of their time doing so in addition to training local forces.

The two veterans agreed about the differences between when they enlisted in the 2000s compared to now at least 10 years later. Soldiers back then would not have access to cell phones or wifi compared to everyone having a cell phone now and free access to wifi. Social media and Skype enable military men and women deployed overseas or domestically to stay connected to their families. The difference in living conditions accompanies the changing technological landscape. Previously, soldiers would be housed in Vietnam style barracks with communal bathrooms and “six guys to a room half the size of a classroom.” However, now soldiers are housed in a style comparable to a college dorm with a group of four or so people sharing a living space and bathroom.

Overall, both Captain Lee and Sergeant Marshall expressed their respect for the family attitude that occurs in the military. They were able to make lifelong friends while serving and protecting their country. Both gained useful professional skills that allowed them to maintain or create successful careers for themselves after the culmination of active duty.