Middle School Students See Success With Project on Veterans’ Lives

Two seventh graders at Sherrard Middle School recently honored veterans through a project that examined war’s effects on the body and mind.

The two 13-year-olds, Lexie Finley and Ava Hawkins, presented their project at the school’s social studies fair and won there and at the county and regional level. The duo went on to place third in the psychology category at this year’s West Virginia State Social Studies Fair.

The project, which looked at the mental and physical effects of war on veterans, stemmed from a genuine interest and curiosity in veterans’ lives.

“We know a lot of veterans and we’re just proud of what they do,” Finley said. “They just inspire us and made us feel like we should do a project about them.”

“We know that they’ve seen things that not normal human things would see, and we wondered how they dealt with it,” Hawkins said.

To find that out, the two interviewed local veteran Jeremy Harrison, co-founder of the Moundsville-based veterans resources center Helping Heroes. Harrison is an Iraq War veteran who left the military in 2005.

“They interviewed me quite extensively,” Harrison said. “It was really neat for me to work with younger folks that really have a genuine concern and interest in issues that veterans are dealing with when they come home from war.”

The project, titled “Veterans’ Lives,” consisted of a 10-minute oral presentation, an abstract and a poster board with information.

In working on the project and speaking with Harrison, the two learned about mental ailments that veterans face, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, as well as physical injuries.

“I think it went really well, and am actually really glad we did this topic because I learned a lot,” Finley said.

“I feel like it’s a topic that not a lot of people don’t focus on and more people should focus on, because our country wouldn’t be here without veterans,” Hawkins said.

Harrison’s organization provides assistance to homeless and near-homeless veteran families through a transitional housing program that provides support for veterans coming from other long-term treatment facilities. It also focuses on community education and PTSD awareness.

He noted that seeing an interest from Finley and Hawkins was inspiring.

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