Giving back, Medal of Honor recipients take part in panel discussion with young veterans at UT
The Valor Outreach Program panel included Medal of Honor recipients Leroy Petry, Matthew Williams and Florent Groberg.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Thursday, several Medal of Honor recipients took part in a panel discussion with young veterans on veteran-related topics, including PTSD, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.
The discussion is part of the Valor Outreach Program, held at the Student Union building at the University of Tennessee. Approximately 300 students and faculty attended the event to meet Medal of Honor recipients Leroy Petry, Matthew Williams and Florent Groberg.
Groberg, an immigrant who didn’t speak English until 12 years old, explained that the program is a way for him to give back.
“I remember being a young man and always wanting to get a perspective from people that I looked up to. And not saying they look up to us, but you know some of them are going to try and follow in our footsteps and we need individuals like them to follow in our footsteps, so this is a cool opportunity,” Groberg said.
Williams, a sergeant major, received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump on October 30, 2019, for his actions on April 6, 2008, as a member of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force 11, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan in the Battle of Shok Valley. He believes that the panel discussion is a great way to remind everyone about the importance of supporting veterans.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out and call somebody if they’re having issues, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings. If you think they’re kind of struggling, then maybe they are and it’s worth that conversation and that’s how we look out for one another,” Williams said.
Petry received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on July 12, 2011, for acts of valor in Afghanistan. He also attended the speaking event at Knoxville Catholic High School on Wednesday alongside a fellow Medal of Honor recipient, Gary Rose. However, at the panel discussion at UT, he explained what he would say to his younger self to better prepare for military service.
“Mentally prepare yourself to see and maybe have to do some of the things that no human should have to do or see and to be ready to come back and deal with it and to be open about it,” Petry said.
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