Veterans on campus honored with week of events and awareness

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A tree was set up outside the bookstore as a way to acknowledge service members. Students and visitors are encouraged to place their own stars on the tree to honor veterans. Photo by Aaron Switzer, The Campus Ledger

Pete Loganbill

Features editor

ploganbi@jccc.edu

In light of Veterans Day, the college has been hosting events all week to honor those on campus who have served and are close to those who serve.

Hidy Lopez, Veterans Outreach assistant and retired administrative specialist, described the purpose of the events.

“What we want to do with all these different events [is] bring awareness to the campus to show that we do have veterans as well as dependents of veterans on campus, and they’re in the form of students, staff [and] faculty,” Lopez said. “They’re everywhere and you just might not know it.”

On Wednesday, the CoLab hosted a Veterans Cultural Awareness panel where several veterans discussed their experiences and gave advice to those seeking to serve.

Retired Army Infantry member Alex Miner said to plan ahead and choose a job in the military that would segway easily into civilian work.

“If I would go back, I would just plan more,” Miner said. “A lot of the jobs don’t translate.”

The panel also discussed issues which are sensitive to Veterans, including PTSD.

“[It’s hard] when people automatically associate PTSD with being crazy,” said Zeph Martinez, retired Army Cavalry Scout. “I have PTSD, and I’m normal. It’s an ongoing thing that affects everyone differently.”

Will Johnson (right) and Derek Perez (left), listens to Michael T. Kenny talking about Warriors’ Ascent, a program about dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in OCB 110 on Nov. 9. Photo by Spencer Carey, The Campus Ledger

On Thursday, representatives of the organization Warriors’ Ascent came to the CoLab and described the mission of their program. They try to help veterans with PTSD by using a holistic approach and focusing on methods such as meditation, yoga and nutrition.

“We give our participants the tools to heal the mind, body, and soul,” said Michael Kenny, retired Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel and executive director of Warriors’ Ascent. “Your body doesn’t heal you, you heal you.”

The program’s director and retired Navy Seal Walter Disney stated the organization helps veterans break down a wall and discuss issues they may have set aside for decades.

“There’s no one event that is the key, the secret,” Disney said. “We create a place where we can gently create the vulnerability [necessary]. One of the best ways to recover from grief is to serve.”

On Friday at 11 a.m., student Jack Zumalt played the bugle call “Taps” to honor the veterans. Immediately afterward, Ed Smith, Research Program Coordinator for the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance, performed “Veteran’s Song.”

Beyond Veterans’ Week, the college provides many benefits for veterans on campus.

“They can be part of JCCC Veterans’ Club and get involved and get together and do events with other veterans,” Lopez said. “We also have the Veteran Services Center. Anybody that served in the military, is a dependent of somebody that served, or even just a JCCC student that’s a supporter to the military can stop by, connect, talk to people [and] meet people.”

Lopez described one of the best and easiest ways anyone can support veterans.

“One of the most effective things you can do to help a veteran or somebody that’s serving is vote,” Lopez said. “If you want to enact change, it would be [by] voting. That’s the best way to teach yourself [and] educate yourself about what’s going on politically. Use that right, and then you’ll be able to help the community based on what’s on that ballot.”

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