‘There’s still a lot to be done.’ Sen. Blumenthal visits campus and highlights veteran’s service
Hunter Lyle – Sports Writer
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, at the Veterans Day Ceremony, since the country’s beginning, only a “fraction of the population” has stepped forward and been willing to serve.
“Veterans are a small part of our population,” said Blumenthal. “That’s the way it’s always been. In this country, very few have always fought and served, and sacrificed for our nation.”
Blumenthal, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, spoke about how important it is to care for veterans, and offer them as much help as possible.
“On this Veterans Day, we talk a good talk, but we need better action, and it should be bipartisan,” said Blumenthal. “There’s still a lot to be done.”
President Joe Bertolino said for decades, the university has offered resources to student veterans.
“Downstairs, if you haven’t visited our Veterans Center, there is a warm, welcoming, friendly place, where our veterans can support and be with one another, and receive the support they need,” said Bertolino. “Not surprisingly, a number of services we offer, such as the veterans drop in center, have been used as a model by other institutions, both in the state and around the country.”
Bertoliono said it is the “duty” of the university to ensure student veterans receive all the resources possible. He said their transition back to civilian life and education should be “seamless.”
“For much of that time,” he said, “Southern was the only institution of higher education in the state and one of only a handful in the entire country, to have a full-time veteran administrator….”
Giacomo “Jack” Mordente is the coordinator of Veterans Office and has been running the ceremony since 1975.
“It is important that we honor our veterans for their service and their brethren, that’s the bottom line,” said Mordente. “During the Vietnam War, the veterans were not very popular at all. They were blamed for the war rather than the government. One of the things we learned from that, as we go on in our current wars, is that it’s the government who puts us into these wars, and our military serves. That’s a valuable lesson.”
During the 70’s, Mordente served in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps.
He said the way people look at soldiers today has improved a lot since his time in the service.
“In this political climate, our veterans are viewed, and treated, very well,” said Mordente. “When these soldiers, who are returning from their time in Iraq, when they were coming through airports, Vietnam veterans were there, in mass, to welcome that.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana