This month we are honored to share an incredible 4-part series about the legacy of service and how our actions can impact future generations. This week we are grateful for the opportunity to share a letter from Dr. Hoosik Najarian. Read on to hear in his own words what this experience meant to him.
On this particular day, my office manager, Amanda, was engaged in a conversation with Thomas about how his mom and her husband were teachers. When I went to the reception area to greet Thomas, Amanda asked me what Junior High School did I attend because Thomas’ mother had taught math with the Glendale Unified School District. When I mentioned the school, Thomas said that was where his mother taught for 25 plus years. Lo and behold, Thomas’ mother was indeed my math teacher! I was shocked and ecstatic, not to mention happy and speechless, because Mrs. Armitstead was my most favorite teacher during my Junior High School years! I shared that his mother was extremely supportive of me and always had my back in school. She took me under her wings when I was 14 years old and really struggling to find my place, not only in school but in America.
My family had moved from Tehran, Iran to California in the Spring of 1975 for a better life. Upon my arrival, I did not speak or understand any English which was hard adapting to this new school. Mrs. Armitstead welcomed me in to her class and introduced me to the other students. She asked me to take a seat in the second row, right in front of her desk and where I could see the days lesson plans written on the transparency board. Since I was good in math, I was usually the first student to solve a math problem so I would raise my hand to give the answer. However, because of my thick Iranian accent, the whole class would laugh at me, causing Mrs. Armitstead to quiet them down. She explained to the class that people all around the world speak English with different accents and that they needed to be tolerant of that...I kept for a month crying at night and begging my parents to send me back to Iran to earn my high school diploma and finish my studies with my friends but was told that was not an option. Mrs. Armitstead realized I was having difficulty adjusting, I was quiet, did not socialize, so she began engaging me during class. Her classroom was always open [to] spend lunch where I could read and write.
When I opened my own Dental practice, I always wanted to volunteer and help out our soldiers. I love dentistry and the skills I learned in Dental School has given me the opportunity to provide dental care to our veterans. Thomas Armitstead served for us so we can all enjoy our freedoms that we have in this country.
We are able to enjoy our lives, freedoms to live, and travel because of the men and women who serve our country. It’s because they are creating an environment where we can all flourish and grow. Our servicemembers are the backbone of this great country. They need to be supported after they return from serving and they should not be faced with whether or not they can get healthcare.
I will be forever grateful for the Mrs. Armitsteads for raising such beautifully devoted children, so that the rest of us can enjoy the life and livelihoods we have now. A little bit of gratitude will go a long way and I enjoy knowing that I was able to provide Thomas with good dental care.
Years ago a wonderful teacher helped me during a very sad and bleak time and then to find out that the young man that I was helping out was her son, well, God truly does exist. It warms my heart and soul knowing that kindness and compassion still exists in this world and what goes around does indeed come around.
Dr. Hoosik Najarian
Recently Everyone for Veterans hosted our annual Veterans Town Hall event in Covington, WA. At every Town Hall, we have the opportunity to listen and learn from veterans about their unique experiences. One moving perspective came from Matthew Hinerman (pictured above, left), as he compared the experience of being a combat veteran with that of a working dog. Many of us were deeply impacted by his perspective and we are grateful for the opportunity to share his words with you.
Matthew said, "I'm sure a lot of you have dogs. There are a lot of different dogs, but there is a group called "working dogs." These are dogs that were bred to, you guessed it, work. To perform a task. To have a purpose. If you own one of these dogs, I hope you're aware of it. If you treat a working dog like a toy, sporting, or other category, you will find yourself in trouble. You can't leave them at home for 8 hours locked up. You'll have things chewed, furniture destroyed, and trash strewn about.
Combat Vets are working dogs. We have had a purpose. We've had a mission. And now we're away from it. And much like the working dogs, left to our own devices, we destroy things. Families, friendships, our own lives.
Like a penned-up working dog, we don't need a blanket. We don't need a never-ending supply of food. Some of us don't need your thanks. We need to be tasked with a mission. We need a purpose. We need to be challenged."
He added, “the short version is this - society currently treats Veterans like we're broken. We've done some things or experienced something and need to be fixed. There has to be something wrong with us. So naturally, when you hear those things, and people treat you that way, you start to believe that it's true. If we stopped treating everyone that is a veteran like they're a broken human, and instead are just people that have unique experiences, I feel like that'd be a move in the right direction.”
Our heartfelt gratitude goes to Matthew and the many veterans that shared their stories with us. Their honesty and vulnerability were profoundly moving. May we all take these words to heart and move in the right direction together.
The goal of our blog is to keep everyone updated on what Everyone for Veterans has been working on.