Dozens of Albany County School District No. 1 elementary school students got an interactive look at military service Friday morning at the She Served program at the University of Wyoming, an annual event dedicated to women in the military.
Marty Martinez, senior project coordinator at the UW Veterans Services Center, said this is the fourth consecutive year the center hosted the event.
“The goal of the event is to highlight the service that our women have had in the United States military throughout all the years of our history, but especially now,” he said. “We wanted to add a second feature to it, and so were not only adding the women who have served but also the women in our military families. And that’s definitely a different type of service, but an extremely important one as well.”
Members of the veterans center staff, as well as ROTC veterans and cadre, volunteered to help out with the event, Martinez said. This year’s event was primarily organized by Jerica Hunter, a women’s group leader with the center.
“We borrowed the idea from a school in California,” Martinez said. “I’ve had a different person every year that has helped to put this event on, come up with new ideas for it ... we invited the schools in, and this has been a big, grand part of this new development for us.”
At the event, students rotated among different stations and workshops and tried out different skills, such as learning how to fold the American flag and practicing carrying army packs weighing about 30 pounds each.
At one station, Sgt. First Class Kenneth Branscum led them through a series of stretches and exercises, including jumping jacks and pushups.
“Down, up, down, up,” he instructed, as the students eagerly followed his lead.
Laramie Montessori School teacher Jennifer Talbott, who teaches grades 4-6 and attended the event with her class, said she hoped the event would give her students an appreciation for what members of the military go through.
Khryshell Beebe, a finalist in the Ms. Veteran America 2016 competition, spoke to the students about Final Salute Inc., a program that works with homeless women veterans and their children.
“What brings me here is that I love speaking for women veterans,” she said. “I am a woman veteran. I love what this project does to bring awareness of women’s roles in the military. And so it brings me back every year — it’s fun to get everybody together ... I hope the kids take away that women are tough, that these little girls can be anything that they want to be.”