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A group of Vietnam Veterans paid a visit to a class of High School students in Oak Forest, Illinois this semester, shedding light on the reality of war and its impact on those who served. 

Chapter 311 of the Vietnam Veterans of America came to speak with the students of Oak Forest High School in late November at the request of their teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Schanz, during the students’ study of Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Things They Carried,’ a historical novel on the Vietnam War and its emotional impact on soldiers upon their return home.

Four Vietnam Veterans came to speak to the students about the war and its effects, including PTSD, that day: Tom Newton and Gary Sieroslawski, who were both drafted into the US Army, Mark O’Brien, who was drafted into the US Air Force, and Jerry VanBladel, who enlisted in the US Navy. 

“We are talking to you because it is good therapy for us,” Sieroslawski told the students. 

The veterans outlined their duties during the war, described some of their experiences, and even brought military gear from both the beginning and end of the Vietnam War, comparing the leftover gear from WWII issued at the beginning to the better suited, newer gear issued as the war went on, reported The Patch.

 “Do you know about the draft?” Sieroslawski asked the students

“Do you know that when you are 18 you still have to register for the draft?”

Thanks to the kindness of these four veterans, high school students in Illinois now have a better understanding of the impact of war and a stronger appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who have served.


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