Raising Awareness with Vets Day Symposium

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As part of a Veterans Day symposium coordinated by the school’s social studies department, high school students were visited by U.S. Navy veteran John Rago, who served during the 1970s as a sonar technician aboard the USS Francis Scott Key, a nuclear submarine.

“The event is intended to raise awareness of Veterans Day and all the sacrifices made throughout history by men and women in uniform,” explained Heather Stewart, Deer Park FACS and social studies curriculum associate. “It provides our students with unique experiences of interacting with veterans and hearing firsthand accounts of their service.”

During the symposium, held in the school library, Rago regaled the students with vivid descriptions of life aboard a submarine and provided detailed answers to their questions regarding the Cold War strategies of submarine reconnaissance and the strong bonds of mutual respect and cooperation formed by service members while underwater.

In addition to discussing his career as a submariner, he also spoke with students about the challenges facing veterans today. Rago currently serves as the outreach coordinator for the Suffolk County United Veterans organization, working with supportive services for veterans and their families. The Yaphank-based SCUV aids Suffolk’s veterans with emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, case management, peer support, educational assistance, job training, transportation, and food pantries.