Afghanistan Veteran talks about his service to Metea English students

Alan Reyes, the husband to freshman dean Jennifer Reyes, is a sergeant in the army that got drafted into Afghanistan for a ten month period. After 500 missions, including many VIP escort missions, he is now living a comfortable life in Illinois while remaining loyal to the army. But the memories still remain. So Reyes took the time to talk to  English students in time with their reading of the Tim O’Brien’s novel, “The Things They Carried”,  On November 3, 2017.,

As the students listened in on the veterans sometimes traumatic stories, they gained insight on what life is like in Afghanistan. Several of them created parallels with the audience, pointing out areas where the American students should be grateful. One  story that Reyes brought up was a time where a seventeen year old kid got ran over by his vehicle and he thought he was dead. It was later revealed that his entire right side got damaged, but what stuck out to him was the fact that he was more concerned about going to school than getting run over.

“The part that impacts and stays with me the most is that he was late for school and he was worried about getting to school, and that’s all he said on his way to the hospital,” Alan Reyes said.

In showcasing stories of the less fortunate, Reyes showed English students the importance of truth. The memories he shared enlightened the school about not the war, but the less fortunate that get caught up in these rough times. America has a fortunate circumstance where we have access to education for all and we’re often desensitized by the things around us. Seeing through another man’s eyes helped these students gain a wider scope of a general topic like war.

“In today’s society, we’re limited by the information that the news reports, but I have a story too and it might impact the children because their in high school and they have to understand how lucky they are. Other countries don’t have what they have,” Alan Reyes said.

But above all, Reyes explained to the students what it means to be an American citizen. Throughout his time in Metea, he emphasized the importance of bonding with his fellow marines, citing them as like a second family that he holds dear to his heart . He also goes on to describe how his other family kept him going while also not becoming a distraction, with his focus being on protecting the country and serving his time. His devotion made him a stronger person and his emphasis on compassion will set a good example for the youth of Metea.

“I love everything about this country, and if I want to make sure this country is safe and sound, I have to step up and protect it. I learned a long time ago that regret is what kills you, not what helps you. So I learned to cope with my regrets and have a memory. And having memories helps you grow and become a better person,” Alan Reyes said.