Veteran speaks to B-A about the changing mission


Maria Cuevas

Matthew Gibbons told students at the Veterans Day assembly that the mission in life sometimes changes.

Emma Chronister, Staff Writer

Matthew Gibbons, a retired Army sergeant, talked to  students at Bellwood Antis High School about how the mission can change for people in the military and in life at last week’s annual Veteran’s Day assembly.

Mr. Gibbons, whose sons Connor, Cooper, Colton and Colin are students in the Bellwood-Antis School Distrct, was enlisted in the army at age 18 and shipped off the basic training at 19. He joined as a way of paying for college, but soon after .9/11 occurred, and, he said, his mission changed for the first time.

In 2009 Sergeant Gibbons was deployed to Iraq as part of the first National Guard striking brigade deployed on combat mission.

“For a long time I trained for force on force combat; however Iraq wasn’t like that,” Mr. Gibbons said. “A month later I would become the first casualty of my unit.”

I was probably chronically depressed, but I had wonderful support system from my family.

— Matthew Gibbons

Mr. Gibbon’s unit was trying to figure out where to put some garbage cans in the town where they were located when he was injured from shrapnel from a grenade thrown by a 15- or 16-year-old boy.

After Sergeant Gibbons recovered from his casualties he went back to college at Penn State to become a History teacher.

“I was probably chronically depressed, but I had wonderful support system from my family,” he said. “There was something that drove me to continue.”

He is now going to UPJ to become a social worker .

“It is the best place I can make an impact,” he said.

Mr. Gibbons currently works at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs he found a new mission in his life.

Veterans day is important to Mr. Gibbons because, he said, Vets need to be cared for.

“They train people to do something not natural, but they don’t train them to assimilate when they come back,” Mr. Gibbons said.

Mr. Gibbons said the most important thing is adapting to changes and moving forward.

“Things will change. As long as you keep working and keep trying, things will work out in the end.”