Remembering safety and not politics on Veteran’s Day
Michelle Hennessy – News Writer
More and more veterans are choosing college after the military with SCSU now having 350 veterans attending the university, according to Jack Mordente, coordinator of veterans and military affairs on campus.
“85% of Vets are over 24 and in college,” said Mordente. “Veterans make good students, they’re flexible, self-directed, team leaders and 75 percent have a GPA of 3.0 or more.”
Speaking at the Veterans Day event on Monday, student veterans gave their thoughts about what the day means to them.
“While it is always appropriate to remember those who died in the service of our country,” said former army engineer and current SCSU student SSG Charles Pickett, “Veterans Day was created and should remain a tribute, a reminder, a celebration of the sacrifices of America’s living Veterans.”
“Please keep in your hearts those who are currently serving and their friends and loved ones,” said Pickett.
“It’s important to remember though that veteran’s here are successes. They are going to classes and they are moving on with their lives on to new horizons,” said Pickett.
“What does Veterans Day mean to me?” asked Tomothy Snipes who came to Southern after returning from Iraq, “Brotherhood. It’s our vets coming together every year and celebrating our lives and accomplishments.”
According to Southern’s veteran services, based on the length of service, the GI Bill ensures veterans are entitled to a percentage of their tuition fees, a books and supplies stipend and a monthly housing allowance. Mordente says this gives more veterans a chance of an education after the military.
As part of the celebration of Veterans Day, SCSU hosted a series of programs aimed at raising awareness for different issues surrounding the military.
After “From the Battlefield to the Classroom” last Friday, which touched on issues of sexual harassment and PTSD, psychology sophomore Raied Abdelgani said he realized how much needs to be done to help suffering soldiers.
“I want to get into therapy, I’m not sure about post-traumatic stress disorder but after watching the videos I might. I just want to help people and they need the most help,” said Abdelgani.
While Veterans Day aims to raise awareness by proclaiming thanks and gratitude to the nation’s veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Mordente said a lot of issues surrounding the military aren’t widely acknowledged. He said as only 1 percent of Americans are serving, unless you know someone, the war can often not be on people’s radar.
“People in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’re still killing each other and people don’t know that,” said Mordente. “Iraq is this close to civil war so what did we accomplish there? And the same thing is happening in Afghanistan but you just don’t hear about it.”
He said though a lot of the wars are political, the soldiers serving are more concerned with keeping each other safe.
“Most of them don’t give a damn about politics,” said Mordente. “They just want to have each other’s backs.”
Speaking at the Veterans Day event at the Student Center on Monday, president Mary Papazian explained just how much Veterans mean to SCSU’s campus.
“We assure you we are grateful to have you here in our community to enrich our community,” said Papazian. “It reminds us what it is to fight for freedom and live for liberty.”