Letter: Gilroy soldier helps educate the students in Afghanistan

I would like to share the following story about the humanity of war and the hearts of our soldiers in Afghanistan. Through all the bad they still made time to do good. 
My son Jessie Rush (Spc. Rush) grew up here in Gilroy and went on to join the Army in 2009.  March 1, 2011 he deployed with his unit to Afghanistan at the age of 19. The story below is about the good deed that his Battery was able to do with the help of us family members back here at home.
CHECHAKTU, Afghanistan – Soldiers with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team delivered supplies to children at a school here Oct. 20. During their last visit to the school, the faculty told soldiers that students needed pencils, pens and paper. What was special about the supply run to facilitate those needs was how it came to be. Education assistance funding is primarily handled by Norwegian forces in the area. To help the school, friends and families of soldiers sent boxes of school supplies to hand out to students, said 1st Lt. Jason B. Campbell, a Winter Haven, Fla., native, now a platoon leader with A Battery. With stores full of school supplies in America, A Battery families have access to materials that are rare in Afghanistan.
“All these people back home can say they’ve contributed to [Operation Enduring Freedom] and helping kids in need,” said Spc. Jessie A. Rush, a Gilroy, Calif., native, now an M249 machine-gunner with A Battery. While focus in the area is security, A Battery makes extra effort to aid people in nearby towns.The soldiers frequently distribute supplies to communities ranging from bottles of water to solar panels for inexpensive energy, said Spc. Eric M. Tope, a Phoenix native, now an M240 machine-gunner with A Battery.
Supporting education is something A Battery soldiers maintain interest in. They’ve received more requests for pens and paper than anything else, Campbell said. A high illiteracy rate hinders the spread of accurate information in Afghanistan. A well-educated generation could make all the difference for the country, Campbell said.
“While there are posters and magazines that show that [the Afghan government] is getting up and making big strides, some of the people are still unable to read and understand that,” said Campbell. The soldiers recognize the importance of education not just for the good it can do the country, but from personal experience. Campbell promotes continuing education to all soldiers in his platoon. Both Rush and Tope enrolled in college courses during deployment. Sharing that interest in education has been an inspiring factor for providing aid to schools, Rush said. “I feel like I’m contributing,” Rush said. “I joined the Army to help people, so that’s good motivation right there.”
Submitted by Christina Soares, Gilroy

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