Monday, November 15, 2010

Everyday is Veterans Day

"A Veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life. That is beyond honor..." - Anonymous

Last Thursday was Veterans Day. I participated in the flag-raising ceremony at our Utica Campus and was moved by the attendance of former and current MVCC students who have served our country. With 140 veterans, 12 dependents of active duty personnel, and 15 national guard/active reserve personnel currently enrolled, MVCC is proud to have been named a "Military Friend School" for 2010 by G.I. Jobs Magazine - a designation given to the top 15 percent of all institutions of higher education in the United States which are dedicated to helping today's Veterans realize their career goals.

The day after our Veterans Day ceremony, I had the opportunity to speak as part of a panel presentation to the Continuing Education Association of New York. The conference was held at the Thayer Hotel on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. While our country is involved in two wars that have little resemblance to any previous wars, my trip to West Point afforded me an opportunity to pause at Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River and reflect on the incredible sacrifice so many have made for our country.

My work with the Homeless Coalition has informed my thinking about how easily it is for veterans to fall into homelessness upon returning to civilian life and the many challenges that come with that transition. MVCC has partnered with the local Workforce Investment Board and others to help the local Utica Center for Development - Veterans Outreach Center redevelop the former Utica YMCA facility.  Our faculty and students transformed the entrance area of the building into a modern Internet Cafe' where veterans can access 100% of their government benefits online. As funding becomes available, we will continue to assist as we can with the transformation by updating the residential units on the second floor for homeless veterans and partner with the OMH-BOCES and other local colleges to offer classes in a new educational access center at that location.

The needs of our current and former veterans are great and certainly deserving of everything our communities can offer. The President of the MVCC Veterans Student Club, Ron Metz, did a great job serving as the Master of Ceremonies at our Veterans Day Ceremony.  His words were echoed by our guest speaker, County Executive Tony Picente, whose words ring true with great significance - "everyday should be Veterans Day."  If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.