Veteran volunteers continue their service in the classroom

Sgt. Mike Lentino (submitted photo)

Sgt. Mike Lentino (submitted photo)

Veterans Day is a time for our nation to pause and recognize those who have bravely served our country, but Valley veterans like retired Army Sergeant Mike Lentino have chosen to continue their service to our great country in a different capacity, in the classroom.

Through the Joe Foss Institute’s Veterans Inspiring Patriotism program, trained veteran volunteers like Sgt. Lentino, share personal stories of their service while also delivering educational materials that focus on the roots of our democracy: the U.S. Flag, the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Sgt. Lentino recently visited the Pima location of Noah Webster Charter Schools in Scottsdale to share his experiences as a Scout Door Gunner with the First Air Cavalry Division during the Vietnam Conflict. Sgt. Lentino was shot down and wounded in January of 1970 and for his valor and military service was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and an Air Medal.

During these presentations, students also learn about the roles and responsibilities associated with a life of active, engaged citizenship. This free program typically lasts 30 – 50 minutes in length and can be customized to all grade levels. The presentations feature a video, personal testimony by a U.S. military Veteran and followed by a question and answer session with students.

“The level of commitment from Veterans like Sergeant Lentino who are willing to once again serve their country in an educational capacity is humbling,” said Dylan Dalzotto, director of programs at Joe Foss Institute. “These Veterans have already given so much to our country, but educating and inspiring the next generation to uphold our freedoms they fought so hard for is important to them, and for that we are grateful. We just want educators to know about this program and the huge impact it has on the students able to take part in it.”

The Joe Foss Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to closing the civics education gap in America and preparing our youth for informed, engaged citizenship.

It is the enduring vision and legacy of the late Joe Foss, WWII Marine Corps combat “Ace” and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, who founded JFI in 2001 with his wife, Didi Foss. Since then, JFI has served 1.75 million students nationally through its programs and advocacy, including the Veterans Inspiring Patriotism program that recruits and trains veterans to hold classroom presentations in elementary and secondary schools.

The Institute also sponsors the Civics Education Initiative, an effort to require high school students to pass a test on 100 basic facts of U.S. history and civics from the United States Citizenship Civics Test (the test all new U.S. citizens must pass) as a requirement for graduation. Legislation has been enacted in nine states with a goal of passing the CEI legislation in all 50 states by Sept. 17, 2017 – the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. JFI currently has offices in Scottsdale, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and St. Augustine, FL.

For more information, please visit

Editor's Note: Mr. O'Malley is a professional at Gordon C. James Public Relations.

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