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At-risk teens honor veterans
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
At-risk teenagers and volunteers honored veterans today at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The Inspire, Encourage, Achieve (IEA) program rehabilitates teens from the Jefferson County Juvenile Probation Court, and serving veterans is their Global Youth Project for the year.
Derek Lee is an active duty Marine. He served back-to-back tours in Iraq, and now he's home.
"I love it, I tell you, honestly being in Texas they honor us wherever we go. Just put a uniform and walk around Texas," said Lee. "Some places you go it's not the way it is here."
He didn't just come to be honored, but to support children in the Inspire, Encourage, Achieve program.
"I came one time to volunteer to talk to them and I love it," said Lee. "Especially being from this area and the area where I'm from- there's a lot of times, a lot of them don't have mentors. And the reason why they go the wrong way is they don't have nobody to sit there and coach them and talk to them."
The teens performed colors, gave gifts, and learned from veterans.
"It's always good for our young people to learn about the sacrifices that veterans have made for us," said James Martin, an IEA board member. "And the more they understand that, the more they understand what they have done, the more they'll appreciate the kind of country that we live in."
Veterans who attended the event say, they're glad to share their experiences.
"I think that we need to connect," said Air Force veteran George Hudspeth, "and if we don't connect, and share our experience, and set examples, we are going to be in real trouble."
"These kids really impressed me that they stepped up to the plate like they have," said Army veteran Walter Rotsch. "They've got their future ahead of them and I feel honored and feel secure that these young people will be taking our places in the future."
A future these servicemen want to help shape.
"I love doing it, love talking to the kids, especially if I make a difference," said Lee. "I may not get all of them, but if I get one, I'm happy with that."
The IEA program helps hundreds of juveniles in Southeast Texas each year.