A crew of young men who recently descended upon Dale and Carol Wiseman’s home in St. Peters were busy at work cleaning the gutters and clearing out some brush along the back fence line. A few were staining a set of wooden stairs and a gate to a portico between the house and garage.
In all, the group of 15 juniors from Christian Brothers College High School were efficient. All of those jobs, plus painting the Wisemans’ garage door, were done in about a half-day’s work. It was evident that all of them were eager to do this for Dale Wiseman, a retired veteran who served our country for 40 years as a member of the United States Air Force.
The CBC students are part of Serving Servicemen, an organization started by junior Tripp Tobey. With the knowledge that he’d have to complete 50 hours of community service his junior year as part of a capstone project, Tripp wanted to put his energy into something that he said brings him “a genuine sense of joy and pride.” As a child, his dad would take him along on visits to a local American Veterans’ post.
“I loved hanging around vets as a kid,” he said. “They’re cool dudes.”
Serving Servicemen started in late 2018 with several weekend projects — helping at American Veterans and American Legion posts, or performing service projects for vets at their homes. In February, a group of them received permission to leave school early and attend three funeral services for homeless veterans at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The students were given the opportunity to serve as pallbearers for Robert Joseph Lang, a homeless vet who served in the Air Force.
The students were later presented with the American flag that was placed on Lang’s casket, a gift from the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers who have had a child that died in active service in the U.S. military.
In early May, CBC kicked off its annual Junior Leadership Service Program, in which juniors are released early from academic work to perform at least 50 hours of direct service in the community. The goal of the program is for them to increase awareness of the needs of those they serve and to grow in faith and a commitment to justice through servant leadership. Tripp organized several projects for Serving Servicemen during that period, including working at several veterans’ homes and AMVETS posts. They advertise their services on Twitter and Facebook, and by handing out flyers to veterans’ groups and through word of mouth.
Brendan Heron, who was helping clear brush at Wiseman’s home, said that he joined the organization to help contribute in a small way to veterans who have given so much for our country. “Helping them out in the little things like this goes a long way,” he said. Brendan, whose father, grandfather and uncle are all veterans, said the work has helped him increase an awareness that “God wants us to help people in need.”
Max Heuer, who also comes from a military family, said he, too, wanted to give back to veterans in some way. The junior, who is in the process of applying for West Point Military Academy, said, “This is a great opportunity to help a lot of people who have served this country. I love this country, and I love the people who defend it. Any little thing we can give back to them is great.”
>> Serving Servicemen
To learn more about Serving Servicemen, visit www.servingservicemen.org.
The organization also has a Twitter account at @srvnservicemen and a Facebook Page at Serving Servicemen.