At community colleges across the state, faculty, staff and students paused last Thursday to honor the sacrifice and service of the nation’s military veterans. The tributes took different forms, ranging from formal ceremonies to online acknowledgements to free snacks for vets.
Members from a local VFW chapter were on hand at Southwest Virginia Community College campus to present the colors and provide a 21-gun salute in honor of the occasion.
System-wide this fall, 18,610 of our students are affiliated with the military, including active duty, retired, reserve, military spouses and dependents.
Military veterans and retirees also serve in numerous VCCS faculty and staff positions.
“When I was growing up, military service and postsecondary education were often presented as a choice. One could pursue either path but rarely, if ever, both,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “Much has changed since those days, and I like to think that community colleges are a big reason for that.”
“I’m grateful for all that our faculty and staff do to keep veterans top of mind as we seek innovations to serve them better, including more expansive credit for prior learning, to connect them with high-demand career opportunities.”
“Like you, I am proud of the work we do to bring the community college mission to life. And I can think of no higher honor, and no more satisfying experience, than serving those who proudly served America. Thank you for everything you are doing to serve the students of Virginia’s Community Colleges,” added DuBois.
Our colleges near military installations in the eastern part of Virginia naturally have a higher percentage of military affiliated students: Thirty percent of students at Tidewater Community College are military affiliated; 26 percent are military affiliated at Thomas Nelson (soon to be Virginia Peninsula) Community College.
Tidewater Community College posted a message of gratitude and tribute from TCC President Marcia Conston, the stories of several military veterans who are students there, and a musical tribute to men and women who have served in uniform.
TNCC gave thanks to the military community with an art show and a ceremony on its Hampton Campus, including a POW/MIA remembrance, (left) which featured a lone table set for one in a place of honor.
Military affiliated students make up 20 percent of the student body at Germanna Community College, and 19 percent at Paul D. Camp Community College. But fact is, there are military affiliated students at each and every one of our colleges.
Students with military ties were featured in a video posted by Northern Virginia Community College. “We are so honored to serve those who have served us in such an important and valuable way,” said NOVA President Anne Kress. “We are also home to over 200 veterans who work as our employees. After serving our country, they have come back to NOVA to serve our students. We are honored and proud to call them colleagues and we thank them for their service as well.”
Blue Ridge Community College offered free lunch to veterans at the school’s cafeteria all last week, and prepared a slideshow of students and staffers who served in the military that was shared on campus and online via social media.
Southside Virginia Community College hosted flag raising ceremonies on both campuses, and SVCC President Quinten Johnson expressed heartfelt appreciation to veterans. Students, faculty and staff also shared photos of military family members that were shared on campus.
Several of our colleges teamed up with local veterans or civic organizations to pay tribute to those who served.
Eastern Shore Community College worked with the local DAR chapter to honor military affiliated students and veterans who are on the college staff.
A local Rotary Club planted flags on the Rappahannock Community College campus, and RCC shared a video on Instagram to spread the word.
New River Community College’s Veterans Officer and admissions staff prepared gift bags for NRCC student veterans to thank them for their service.
Lord Fairfax Community College hosted a week of events honoring Veterans, including luncheons, messages of appreciation, photos of military affiliated students and staffers, and posted a story about Army veteran Jeff Sinclair, who is thriving in several programs at LFCC.