Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – A New Kind of Military Service

Name: Julia Pedersoli
From: Greenbelt, Maryland
Grade: 12
School: Elizabeth Seton High School
Votes: 0

A New Kind of Military Service

My father, a former Air Force fighter pilot, instilled in me great
respect for the military. Hearing more about the ongoing war in the
Middle East, seeing returning veterans, and living outside
Washington, D.C. and witnessing security related issues that are a
daily part of our nation’s capital, I felt that I too could do
something to help our military.


To pursue my interests, I took part in a six week volunteer program at
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. During this program, I
interacted with, and helped veterans from every military branch and
different wars. I witnessed a veteran who had lost both legs in Iraq
take his first steps down the hall with brand new prosthetics; I
chatted with a 102 year old World War II veteran about his time
fighting Nazis. When I was not talking with the patients, I helped
the nurses make copies of documents, put together discharge papers,
and anything else they asked me to do. While volunteering I quickly
learned that even the simplest of tasks can greatly improve someone’s
day. One of the ways Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
welcomes it’s new patients is by placing an American Flag and the
Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps flag, depending on which
branch the patient serves in, outside their room. While walking
around and placing the flags on the wall, a patient’s stopped me
and told me how happy and proud he became once he saw the flags. This
experience, gave me the most satisfaction as a volunteer because I
was able to see how my efforts were improving the moral of the
patients at the hospital. To this patient and many others, the flags
are more than just a piece of cloth, the flags stand for freedom and
what they are fighting and sacrificing for. My biggest challenge as a
volunteer was dealing with deaths from patients that did not survive
surgery or had died during the night. These men and women sacrifice
so much of themselves for this country and it is heartbreaking to
know that they will be not able to go back to their families. My
activities at Walter Reed are “forward looking” because they
support our military men and women. Supporting current our armed
forces encourages future generations to join our military and fight
for our country’s freedom. Looking back ten or twenty years from
now, I hope that my activities have made a difference in the lives of
those that I served at the hospital.

These experiences, and others like them, helped me decide on a career in
physical therapy. My goal, after completing my 4-year degree and an
additional two years in graduate school, is to open my own practice
where I can help wounded warriors like the ones at Walter Reed. I
want to make a difference for the men and women who have already
sacrificed so much of themselves so that we may continue live in the
world’s greatest country.


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