Veteran Issues Challenge to Step Up!

posted Nov 13, 2015, 8:52 AM by webmaster district   [ updated Nov 13, 2015, 8:53 AM ]

Lt. Col. Dawn Rice told DeKalb High School students Wednesday that the military always will need people to step up and join to help keep the country safe. But she cautioned anyone considering enlisting to know what comes with the job.

“Some people don’t understand how much people (in the service) give up,” Rice said. “Once you sign up, we need you.”

Rice was the keynote speaker for a Veterans Day assembly at the high school. She spoke in front of the student body and a group of a dozen military veterans.

An Honor Guard from American Legion Post 97 posted colors to open the ceremony. The DeKalb Classic Connection choir sang the national anthem and DeKalb Student Body President Kierston Snyder led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Social Studies teacher Andy Comfort introduced Rice before she spoke. Rice grew up in Celina, Ohio, and joined the Air Force when she was 17. She served eight years as a medic and computer systems operator. She then left the military but returned after 20 years, serving as a flight nurse. She was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, where she served as chief flight nurse. She also worked as a trauma nurse at DeKalb Health hospital in Auburn and Parkview Trauma Center in Fort Wayne.

Rice thanked the other veterans who were guests at the assembly. The group included Army, Navy and Air Force veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Afghanistan.

Rice said she made the decision to enlist in the Air Force because it would be a way for her to learn a trade after high school. She said she didn’t see a future for herself in college or in Celina at that time. And she knew that by joining the military she would have an everlasting bond with her fellow service members.

“Military provides a brotherhood for life,” Rice said.

When she joined the service, there were no wars taking place, she said. But seeing the violence in Afghanistan gave her motivation to return to the Air Force after a 20-year absence.

“We live in a different world now,” Rice said.

When she returned to the service, her daughter was 14, Rice said. The decision to go overseas was difficult because it would affect her daughter, Rice said. Now, with two children and four grandchildren, it’s hard to be committed to service duties because she misses important family events from time to time, Rice said. But when that happens, it’s important for her to consider the bigger picture, she said.

“We don’t want to deploy and leave our families, but we want a safe world for our families,” Rice said. “So someone has to step up and do it. The big benefit you get from the military is learning to be selfless. … Service is about others, not yourself.”

The assembly wrapped up with a recognition of the veterans in attendance and a performance of “Taps” by DeKalb High School trumpeters John Good and Lake Osbun.

DeKalb High School is still in the process of collecting data for a Military Honor Wall, which will recognize DeKalb graduates who have served in the military, Media Integration Specialist Lisa Conrad said. Any graduate who has served is encouraged to submit information in order to be included on the wall. Anyone interested can contact Conrad at or submit information via a data collection survey at

Article and Photo from The Star

Written by Jacob Klopfenstein