Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veterans Day

Photo Caption: Student veteran Ryan Davenport recites the Soldier’s Creed during a Veterans Day ceremony in Woodland Park.

On Monday, November 10, Berkeley College held a Veterans Day ceremony to honor the many individuals, including those at Berkeley College, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Here are my comments from that day:

Good Morning. Today we are proud to observe Veterans Day at Berkeley College. This morning’s ceremony in Woodland Park is one of two Veterans Day observances sponsored by Berkeley College and the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. Tomorrow on November 11, the official Veterans Day, Berkeley College will march in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.

I would like to thank Dr. Richard Robitaille, Assistant Vice President of Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, for his leadership; Tami Maurer, Director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs; Lisa Mulligan, Assistant Director and Veterans Success Advisor; and Maja Johnson, Coordinator of Military and Veterans Affairs, for their roles in organizing the Veterans Day tributes at the College.

Veterans Day was started to commemorate the Armistice that brought the official end of World War I at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson, named November 11 as National Armistice Day. In 1938, President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed the national day of observance Veterans Day. It is a 95-year old tradition that supersedes us. Let us pause and reflect on the sacrifices of servicemen and women from around the nation, and those students, faculty and associates on our own campus who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 21.8 million veterans in the United States, including1.6 million female veterans, and 1.3 million veterans who served in multiple wars. More than 9 million U.S. veterans are over the age of 65. Did you know that nine percent of veterans own their own business and that 26 percent of veterans over the age of 25 have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree?

The new U.S. Veterans Administration Secretary, Robert McDonald, is announcing a massive restructuring of the department that includes a restructuring of the veterans’ healthcare delivery system. During a 60 Minutes interview that aired yesterday, Secretary McDonald said he plans to hire 28,000 medical professionals, including 2,500 mental health professionals.

Secretary McDonald was the former Chairman and President of Procter and Gamble. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 and served as a Captain in the U.S. Army.

At Berkeley, we are fortunate to have more than 500 students, as well as faculty and associates, who have served in the military. I ask you all who have served to please stand.

In addition to Ryan Davenport, an Army veteran who has gone from driving trucks in the U.S. Army to Fashion Merchandising and Management major, I would like to mention some of the other veteran students at Berkeley.

John Partin, a freshman here in Woodland Park, spent 22 years in the U.S. Marines before making his way to Berkeley. John was featured in The Record newspaper recently because he is such an inspiration. At the age of 41, he is reinventing himself as a Criminal Justice major and a member of the Cross Country team.

Another student I met earlier this year is Sherry Wu, served eight years in the U.S. Navy. Sherry was born in China, attended a university in Beijing, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design at Berkeley College in Woodland Park. Sherry is a Federal Work Study student and assists the Student Development and Campus Life team on various projects. She is scheduled to graduate at the end of 2016.

You may have heard me mention Speedy Guareno, who served in the U.S. Army. Each year Speedy’s story gets better. Speedy, who is majoring in Justice Studies with a minor in Management, has been a student at Berkeley College in Newark for three years. He is a Student Leader at his campus and was honored by La Voz, the Spanish newspaper, for his service and achievements.

Berkeley has received a number of accolades for the support we provide our student veterans. I would like to share them with you. Berkeley College was named a Best Online College for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report; a Best College for Vets in the online and nontraditional category by Military Times; a Best College for Vets in the four-year category by Military Times; and for five years in a row, Berkeley has been recognized as a top Military-Friendly School by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education.

On a day when we gather to remember those veterans who have gone before us in acts of bravery and heroism, let us remember their sacrifices and pray for those who have lost their lives and the colleagues and loved ones they have left behind.

As we remember these men and women, I ask you to think about something you can do to honor our veterans. There are many opportunities for you to be involved in veterans’ activities at Berkeley throughout the year. Here are some examples.
Tomorrow you can show your support by marching in the New York City Veterans Day Parade.
You can participate in holiday card and care package drives for troops overseas;
Support a veteran-owned business;
Volunteer at local and national veterans organizations;
Be a part of the Veterans History Project administered by the Library of Congress;
Provide tutoring and academic support to student veterans; or
Get to know veterans through activities sponsored at any of the five veterans resource centers located at our locations in New Jersey and New York.

Ninety-five years ago on November 11, 1919, President Wilson said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

These words still ring true today, as we honor all veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country.