Take a Veteran to School Day


High schoolers at St. Mary’s Catholic High School are working to bridge the gap between former, current and future service members, and the country they work to protect.

“I’ve always felt that, as a citizen of the U.S., it’s really such a blessing to be here, and have all the things that we have,” says Jacob Kundert, a senior at St. Mary’s Catholic High School. “I always felt like I needed to give back in some way.”

That’s why after graduation in the spring, Kundert won’t be joining his peers in the college dorms.

“I go to basic training in the summer. And then I miss my first semester of college, but that’s okay, I’ve got plenty of time,” he says. “So I come back and would start in January, and then I’ll be in the National Guard in college.”

Kundert enlisted in the Army National Guard, he says, in part thanks to the inspiration of his father. That, and the idea of serving his country.

“There is nothing I think more important in this world than being part of something that is greater than oneself, and the military offers people that opportunity,” says Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton.

That’s why five branches of the military, spanning six decades in American history, were brought together Monday for a trip down memory lane.

It’s all part of the “Take a Veteran to School” event, allowing veterans from all walks of life to connect with high school students.

“We do share a common bond. Whether you're a millennial, whether you're a Generation X-er, you share this common bond of love of your country and patriotism,” says Sen. Roth.

Patriotism that works to inspire – and show anything is possible.

“In some ways, it kind of makes everything worth it,” says Jonathan Lilly, United States Marines Corps. “There's a lot of good and a lot of bad that have come out of my experiences, but I think getting to tell a story, getting to motivate someone who's struggling at any point in their life, and realize it's really all in your head. You can get through anything you tell yourself to get through.”

Kundert says hearing such inspiring stories made the decision to enlist easy.

“All the guys that were up here from the different branches, the sacrifice and everything that they've done, it's a real inspiration and another reason that I joined the military,” Kundert says.