By Allison Lee ’20
On November 11, the Upper School had the honor of hosting Sergeant Jason Foster for this year’s Veterans Day assembly. Ryan Willsey (VI), founder of Pingry’s Wounded Warrior Project Club, introduced Foster as the speaker for the assembly. Foster is a former combat medic in the U.S. army. He enlisted in the army when he was twenty-one years old and proudly served for nine years.
Telling stories from his experience as a combat medic, Foster spoke of the struggles of war. He said, “We were shot at and blown up by improvised explosive devices. I was knocked unconscious on four separate occasions. Most 21-year olds are playing drinking games; I was cradling a warrior in my arms as he died.” He added, “You grow up fast.”
Foster, who had planned on dedicating his career to protecting our nation, encountered a complication when doctors discovered a brain bleed the size of a quarter in his right frontal lobe. This injury forced him to medically retire from the army in 2011.
Foster’s purpose in the army had always been to help others, so when he returned home, he “felt absolutely worthless.” His wife Theresa helped him out of the dark by contacting the Wounded Warrior Project, who helped Foster find a new purpose: guiding fellow warriors.
Based on the way he found new meaning in his life, he encouraged students and faculty to use their talents to give back to their community. “More often than not,” Foster said, “your actions might go unnoticed. But they make a difference. Everything you do matters. You have unique talents that you can use to give back.”
He then brought Willsey back on stage to commend and thank him for his work with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Regarding his involvement with the Veterans Day assembly and the Wounded Warrior Project Club, Willsey said, “I have many members in my family who have served in the military and I suppose that is one of the reasons why the military and veterans are important to me.” He continued, “From a young age I have been taught to respect their sacrifice for us. Not only are their stories incredibly moving, but their perseverance to overcome everything they have gone to is truly amazing.”
As Foster closed his speech, he implored Pingry to embrace its sense of community. He mentioned that, in a few months, Pingry might not remember who he is or what he said. Instead, Pingry will remember how he made them feel. The assembly ended with a moment of silence for soldiers who served and lost their lives in the military.