Nov. 11, 2022 - Student talent was on full display today throughout the Comal Independent School District as students, teachers and staff members honored family and community members who serve or have served in the United State Armed Forces.
Each of Comal ISD’s 32 campuses paid tribute on this Veterans Day to those whose service stands for courage, bravery and sacrifice. Here are just a few of the men and women who were among those being honored today, their military journeys and what it means to them to be honored.
Lisa Chabot, retired Army, lieutenant colonel, served 1992-2020
Family: Husband Guy Chabot, retired Army master sergeant, and two children: Emily Chabot, 10th-grade student at Davenport High School, and Sarah Chabot, an eighth-grade student at Danville Middle School.
Deployments: Three times to Afghanistan with last deployment from 2018 to 2019. At the time, her daughters were in fourth and seventh grades, and it was her most difficult deployment.
“I missed quite a few milestones in my daughters’ lives,” Chabot says, “and it was then that I knew I had to retire and focus on my family.”
Military Service: Chabot comes from a military family. Her father is retired from the Air Force and two of her brothers served, on in the Army and one in the Air Force.
“The Army treated me very well,” she says, “letting me travel the world from Somalia, Italy and Germany to Bosnia, Hawaii and Japan, just to name a few of the places I’ve seen.”
Continued Service: Since she retired, Chabot has looked for ways to continue to serve, and today, she serves her community. She is a substitute teacher for Comal ISD and currently serves as the president of the DMS PTSA. In addition, she supports fellow veterans through Soldiers Angels which helps veterans who are in need and she helps with care packages for service members who are away from home for the holidays.
“I had to watch other people take care of my kids when I was deployed,” she says. “I decided to volunteer to give back to all of them.”
She is honored to be recognized for her military service and enjoys telling others about her experiences.
Maria Miles, Army, corporal, served 1998-2001
Matt Miles, Army, sergeant first class, served 1998-2011
Family: Three children: Tyler Miles, graduated from Smithson Valley High School in 2019; Ryan Miles, a 12th-grade student at SVHS; and Nathan Miles, an 11th-grade student at Pieper High School.
Deployments: Matt had two deployments - to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Military Service: Both have family members who served in the military during Vietnam and World War II.
“I joined the miliary as a way to see the world and serve my country at the same time,” says Maria who found herself living in Korea and Italy during her and Matt’s military careers. “I appreciate that Comal ISD recognizes veterans and their families each year. The students of veterans tend to move a lot, and it’s nice to honor them too because they sacrifice a lot and we don’t always acknowledge them.”
Matt was a combat engineer whose military career ended when he was severely injured in Afghanistan on Oct. 13, 2007. He earned a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, a parachutist badge with bronze star, an air assault badge and a German parachutist badge.
“I think it is important that we continue to honor those who serve,” says Matt.
Continued Service: For the past 11 years, Maria has worked for Veterans Airlift Command helping coordinate private flights for combat wounded veterans.
Amanda Merritt, Army Nurse Corps, lieutenant colonel, has served for 21 years and is currently on active duty
Kevin Benefield, retired Army Criminal Investigation Division, chief warrant officer 2, served 20 years.
Family: Merritt and Benefield are married and have three children: Zachary Benefield, 5th-grade student at Kinder Ranch Elementary and twin daughters, Graciella and Norah Benefield, 1st-grade students at KRES.
Military Service: Both Merritt and Benefield follow a long line of military family members.
“I initially entered the military to serve my four years and get out,” says Merritt. “Within those first four years, I was deployed for 18 months. Those 18 months changed my life. Saving the lives my military brothers and sisters gave me a new perspective on life. It changed my goals. I wanted to take care of those that have sacrificed everything.”
Merritt has earned many awards and commendations including the Order of Military Medical Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, five Army commendation medals and nine Army achievement medals.
Benefield also earned awards and commendations including Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army achievement medal.
“I feel that the Veterans Day program at Kinder Ranch keeps the service members in the forefront,” Merritt says. “While often in today’s environment, those that serve are not cared about and not valued, KRES is celebrating them, both past and present. There is an abundance of military personnel in San Antonio, and it is nice to honor them.”
Danny Silivanch, Air Force, airman first class, served 1977-1981
Military Service: His father served in the Korean war; stepfather served; oldest brother served in Vietnam; and he and another brother served in Germany.
“I am very honored to see the time and trouble that everyone goes through to honor those who have served,” says Silivanch, who works in the technology department in Comal ISD. I enjoy seeing all the flags that line elementary schools like Specht. It is a real honor and a riveting spectacle.”
Thank you to all our community veterans.
-Lisa Chabot and family
-Maria and Matt Miles and family
-Amanda Merritt and Keven Benefield and family