Continuing to serve: Summit County veterans use teaching to find purpose in post-active-duty life
To Ali Subasi — an eight-year veteran of the United States Army and Summit County resident — Veterans Day is to honor those who have served and to appreciate how the values he learned during active duty have transferred into his civilian life.
“I guess you can say it’s a symbolism of connecting the two,” Subasi explained. “Veterans Day honors those that are continuing to fill the values that they received (in the service) in the world they choose to live in.”
Subasi, who is also a STEM and computer science teacher in the Summit School District, served in Afghanistan for 10 months as well as Iraq for a year. He has been in Summit County since 2016.
“I was traveling and living abroad for a while, and with that came learning experiences from different cultures and personalities, and in the countries I was visiting and living in,” Subasi said. “When I settled in Summit, all those came to a head — such as peace and tranquility, and the friendships that you can build. Then, the ability to choose your own adventure was a nice settling point for it as well.”
He and fellow educator Derek Varble, who served in the United States Air Force for over two decades, are set to host a flag-raising ceremony at Summit Middle School at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 11 to celebrate the day and pass their experiences onto their students. In addition, there will be veteran musicians, and the High Country Veterans Association will be in attendance to help recognize local veterans.
Varble said activities on Veterans Day like flag-raising ceremonies are a way to reflect on what he sees as his civic duty and making a contribution to the common good — whether that’s in the domain of national security, which is where he worked while in the military, or now in public education.
Varble is a permanent substitute teacher at Summit Middle School, meaning he covers any subject that needs to be covered that day to fill in the gaps and to ensure students are well served.
“On Veterans Day, those who are veterans will often wear their military uniform that day, just to have an opportunity to commemorate that important day,” Varble said. “So a lot of people who had been in uniform and no longer are in an active service capacity on active duty — they’ll wear their uniforms.”
As Subasi and Varble continue to grow as educators and forge their new paths outside of active duty, they said Veterans Day is a great day to remember what is most important in their lives: service to the public.
“It does bridge those different aspects of my professional life — in that both (service in the military and education), for me, reflect trying to contribute to the common good,” Varble said.
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