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A Day to Pause and Recognize Heroes

Veterans are those who put on a uniform in the morning and write a check to the nation saying “cash it at will.”

The words spoken by Kenneth Blume, alumnus and current president of the Student Veterans Club, brought a mixture of responses on Veterans Day 2017, ranging from deep reflection to inspiration and awe.

They serve not knowing if or when they will be called off to a combat zone, but they still put their uniform on,” Blume continued. “They serve in places most people have never heard of in conditions that people never want to be in.”

Veterans Day is a day for the College community to pause and recognize America’s heroes, some of whom work here; others who teach or take classes as they transition from military service.

Troy Brock, a security guard at the College and U.S. Navy veteran, was warmed by the moving display of affection and appreciation. While at boot camp, which was his first time away from home, Brock was deployed to combat during the Gulf War.

"It brings back memories that I try and repress but it’s still…I’m glad that people show appreciation for what [veterans] did back then when they didn’t know what they were getting [themselves] into,” said Brock, who served his country four years. “So it’s good to be appreciated even after all these years.”

Speakers at this year's event included Dr. Donald Generals, president of the College; Steve Bachovin, coordinator, Veterans/Military Programming; Ralph Faris, co-coordinator of the Honors Curriculum and Professor of Sociology; and Quyen Ngo, work study coordinator.

Ngo escaped a North Vietnamese concentration camp and fled to Philadelphia 1979. He obtained his associate degree from the College, went on to earn his bachelor’s and came back to work here in 1987 where he has had a long, distinguished career.

In Philadelphia, Ngo now devotes his free time to sharing the importance of the Vietnam War to Philadelphians,  and reminding his neighbors of the need to honor the American soldiers who, at times, were welcomed home with scorn.

Ngo and Farris, who served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Amy platoon sergeant from 1967-1968, both offered offered poignant, deeply personal remarks.

According to Bachovin, the College currently has about 600 student veterans enrolled in the Fall 2017 with an estimated 100 or more that have either not identified as veterans, are unaware that they are veterans. Of those self-identified student veterans, 85% are older than 24; 47% have families and 27% are female (which is more than the percentage in the Military 15.3%).

In October 2017, the College was recognized as Blume became was one of 100 student veterans selected to attend the Student Veterans of America’s 2017 Leadership Institute for those with outstanding leadership abilities. Of the 1,300 national chapters and the 1.5 million Veterans that have gone back to school, the College was the only community college in America to send a representative to their leadership Institute in Dallas, Texas this year. Blume received an all-expenses paid leadership training experience at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and 100 hours of intense training from top leaders across diverse sectors in the nation.

“The Veterans Resource Center and Student Veterans Club are committed to assisting those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military, and their family members with the transition to higher education and career success,” said Bachovin.