“Support for Veterans” Student Writing Lesson

Whether or not you agree with war, how might you welcome a war veteran home and support his return to community life?

The YES! Magazine article, “Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country,” by Dr. Ed Tick, is a story about the many veterans he sees who are physically and emotionally wounded from serving in the war, and how we, as community members, can help these warriors heal.

Students will use Dr. Ed Tick’s story to write a letter of support to a veteran, and begin taking responsibility as a country for that soldier’s wounds and healing.

Download this lesson as a PDF

YES! Article and Writing Prompt

Read the article: “Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country by Dr. Edward Tick.

Writing prompt: Imagine what it’s like to serve in a war. Write a letter to a veteran—fictitious or someone you know. Whether or not you agree with the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how might you welcome this soldier home, and express your support for the transition this soldier faces as he or she returns to civilian life?

Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

    • Provide an original essay title
    • Reference the article
    • Limit the essay to no more than 700 words
    • Pay attention to grammar and organization
    • Be original, provide personal examples and insights.
    • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W.9-10.3 and W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI.9-10 and RI.9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. “9-10” is used as an example.

Evaluation Rubric

Sample Essays

The essays below were selected as winners for the Winter 2014 Student Writing Competition. They may serve as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students’ writing—and as an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.

La Fuerza, The Strength by Karla Gomez, Grade 8

Read Karla’s letter that celebrates her cousin’s patriotism as a Mexican American, and pledges her support without judgment. 

Dear Veteran by Jim Xie, Grade 11

Read Jim’s letter that highlights the unimaginable hardships of war and his gratitude towards veterans.

Silence, My Old Friend by Blaine Stine, Northern Oklahoma College

Read Blaine’s letter that reaches out to a fellow soldier, encouraging him to tell his story so they will remember—and heal— together. 

Dear Emily by Audrey Cameron, Grade 9

Read Audrey’s letters that voice how she is inspired by her friend’s devotion and strength.

Dear Solider by Jay Hagstrom, Franklin Pierce University

Read Jay’s letter to a fellow veteran about the difficulties of not feeling like a true veteran.

Dear Hero by Cheyanne Smith, Northern Oklahoma College

Read Cheyanne’s letter that asks a soldier introspective questions about his journey so she can better appreciate the freedoms she has, at the price of his.

Response from author Dr. Edward Tick to student essay winners, acknowledging that their powerful voices help restore truth to the war experience.

We Want to Hear From You!

How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Share with us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students.

Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.

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