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Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Q&A with Hank Sauer

Hank Sauer makes opening remarks to the crowd at the 2022 Veterans Day Program. Sauer spoke about the high suicide rate among veterans and the need to better support those troops coming home. (Maycee Hays)

Local veteran Hank Sauer served in the Navy for 30 years, enlisting in 1955 and leaving with the highest ranking of Master Chief Petty Officer after serving on four different submarines. Sauer has been a member of Yutan’s VFW chapter since 1992 and has served in a variety of leadership roles both locally and state-wide. For the past 29 years, Sauer has been in charge of the school’s annual Veterans Day program, which he said involves finding a speaker, organizing and judging the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essays, emceeing the program and making sure everything meets the requirements. Hearing this might be his last year organizing the program, we sat down with Sauer and talked to him about this year’s Veterans Day program.


How did you get involved with the Yutan school district?

“Well, all my grandkids went to school here, and I was on the school board for eight years. So, basically, that’s how I got involved with the school. I love what they do. I just love the school system.”


What issue inspired you to bring in the service dog speakers this year?

“Many veterans have what they call PTSD. During World War Two and the Korean War, that was called battle fatigue. Then psychiatrists got involved and said, ‘No, that’s post traumatic stress disorder.’ Psychiatrists are putting that label on it, but that particular label can happen to anybody. Students with a life-threatening event, sexual abuse, home abuse, bullying can cause this. The sad part about it, the veterans and these students committed suicide. We have 20 veterans kill themselves every day. You have 17 teenagers ages 14 to 20 that kill themselves every day. Two have now died since you and I have been talking…For us, to fight it is to recognize it and get them help.”


How are service dogs helpful for veterans with PTSD?

“That dog is trained to recognize when he has [an] event. Like, if a veteran sees a woman or anybody with a long coat–-they right away think of a suicide bomber. Now, he’ll freak out. If he goes shopping, he’s scared of what’s around the corner of a shopping aisle. That dog is very effective.”


What are the most rewarding parts about organizing the Veterans Day program?

“Watching the students respond and being happy with what I gave them, these essay rewards. It really means a lot to them and their parents. Because parents are concerned nowadays about how patriotic their kids are. You know, you can only teach them so much. The rest of they have to learn here. So when a student demonstrates his patriotic beliefs, that means more to me than anything.”


Do you have a favorite moment from past Veterans Day programs?

“Last year I was fortunate to have my granddaughters and a great-granddaughter sit in the crowd. And that meant a lot to me.”


What do you hope people will take away from the Veterans Day program?

“Understanding that our flag stands for freedom and to thank a veteran, and that veteran could be his father, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, but I hope that day they call a person and thank them for their service.”


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About the Contributors
Libby Winn
Libby Winn, Junior writer
Libby is a junior and in her third year of journalism. She enjoys writing stories and editing photos. Outside journalism, Libby is involved in cheerleading, NHS and FBLA.
Maycee Hays
Maycee Hays, Senior writer
Maycee Hays is a senior in her fourth year of journalism.  She enjoys taking pictures at school events and writing feature stories.  Outside journalism, Maycee is involved in softball, cheer, powerlifting, club softball, speech, and NHS.
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