The cadets from Paulding County High School in Dallas used funds they raised from fellow students to purchase signs which ask motorists to reserve a parking space for a wounded or retired vet. They then installed them at the school and the district’s central office, said retired Lt. Col. Greg McAfee, senior instructor for the JROTC unit.
Cadet Austin Rakestraw, who will be a senior in the fall, said his fellow cadets wanted to honor their instructors, who are retired veterans, as well as some cadets’ family members who had been wounded in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Sometimes their struggle is an unsung struggle,” he said. “Those men gave all. Let’s show how much we appreciate it.”
McAfee said the cadets do a number of service projects throughout the year and opted to raise funds for the signs, which add retired veterans to the sometimes-familiar signs for “wounded warriors.”
“We kind of put a new spin on it,” he said.
Cadets in the recently completed school year raised enough funds to buy 20 signs for the central office and the high school’s feeder schools. The cadets are seeking to convince Paulding County government to install a sign at the Watson Government Complex and courthouse, with a goal of convincing the county’s shopping center owners to allow installation of the signs as well, McAfee said.
About 60 of the unit’s 280 members helped raise funds for the program. Members raised $600 from Paulding County High School student, which was more than enough to pay for the signs.
Jonathan Carrasco, who will serve as the unit’s battalion commander for the 2014-2015 school year, said his goal is to work to keep cadets and students motivated about the project.
The signs include the name of the school and JROTC unit and sign builder Peach State Printing, which is creating the signs at cost.
“It’s a legacy,” Charrasco said. “We hope to carry that legacy forward.”
Rakestraw, who helped spearhead the campaign, said the Paulding School Board and Superintendent Cliff Cole “helped out so much” in their support.
He said the immediate goal is to raise about $2,000 to purchase more signs. He also hopes word spreads about the signs, helping to convince shopping center owners to allow installation at the numerous large retail locations around Paulding.