December 23, 2015

The Military Awareness Club: Marching Where Nobody Has Gone Before

The Military Awareness Club: Marching Where Nobody Has Gone Before
Kim Robins ‘17
Can you find Afghanistan, the country that receives $4 million of American military funds every hour, on an unlabeled map of the Middle East? According to a National Geographic survey, only 17 percent of teenagers in the United States can.
This alarming statistic illustrates the widespread ignorance surrounding issues that affect soldiers and veterans worldwide. GOA juniors Emily Blum, Adi Brickman and Nava Wasser, troubled by this obvious problem, created the Military Awareness Club this year to educate GOA students about the American and Israeli militaries.
All three girls are deeply impacted by soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice. They cite emotional videos of soldiers coming home as one inspiration for the Club’s activities ­and feel that the GOA community does not discuss soldiers enough.
“We definitely want to talk about the Israeli army, because our families and community have strong connections with soldiers and units in the IDF,” they explained. “That being said, it’s important that we create a balance between America and Israel.
“America, our own country, can be at war and we will completely ignore it. Soldiers are risking their lives. We should acknowledge and honor these men and women and do anything we can to help them.”
The MAC’s primary goal is educational. Blum, Brickman and Wasser want to raise awareness about the experiences of soldiers and veterans and the hardships that they face. Club members learn about life during and after military service through videos, group discussions, current events and soldiers’ personal stories. This education, the club’s leaders believe, will foster increased support of both militaries.
Despite scheduling and organizational difficulties, Blum, Brickman and Wasser said that “Students have responded positively to the club so far. They are definitely interested in learning about soldiers and the military and are engaged in the activities we plan.”
The MAC’s first major event was the Veterans’ Day Assembly, in which Col. Seth Milstein spoke to GOA students about his time as a Marine. Blum, Brickman and Wasser introduced Milstein at the assembly, met with him afterwards and led students in the Prayer for our Country.
“The assembly was a really meaningful experience for us,” the three girls reflected. “It was important to us that students met an American soldier on Veterans’ Day. We know that our classmates received the program well and we hope that after meeting Col. Milstein, other students see how important it is to learn about the military.”
In the near future, the MAC hopes to organize more fundraisers and other special events to support American and Israeli military units. They are planning a “green out” or a “red-white-and-blue out” as an opportunity for students to have fun while displaying their pro­-military pride.
Based on its success so far, the Military Awareness Club will be a very effective way to educate and engage students concerning the American and Israeli militaries. As Blum, Brickman and Wasser said, the MAC “is an amazing club discussing an important topic.
“Everybody should join us on Thursdays [week one] in Room 311!”
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