By Rachel Green, John Waterman
By Rachel Green, John Waterman
A Veterans Day fair was held in the Bradshaw dining hall on Nov. 11, to honor veterans and inform them of the services Riverside City College offers specifically to them.
The entire room was lined with booths displaying the various services available to veterans. Along the back wall was a free buffet for veterans and their guests. There was also a table with a black table cloth to commemorate the Prisoners Of War (POW) and Missing In Action (MIA).
The event itself resonated with an awe-inspiring sentiment of patriotism with classic all-American songs such as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” on the stereo, and the smell of barbecue chicken filled the Bradshaw Dining Hall. The underlining principle of the event was pride and appreciation for our troops and our country.
With collaboration between students, faculty and staff this year’s veterans fair, “was an upgrade from last years, this is much appreciated. It makes me feel like people actually care,” said retired Staff Sergeant Gregory Benjamin.
Benjamin has been a part of the US military for 12 years, and has toured in Vietnam and Okinawa, Japan and understands the benefits, as well as the afflictions caused by war.
“It’s traumatic… but the experience will give you a new perspective about what people take for granted,” Benjamin said.
Many veterans spoke at the fair, among them was special guest, Sergeant Uriarte of the Marine Corps. He discussed his time spent in the Vietnam War and what to do after discharge.
“Many young people forego college to enlist and when they get back, they need to catch up,” he said.
Uriarte wanted to join the military police when he got back from the war.
However, when asked why he didn’t join “I didn’t have the education so I sought to get involved in law enforcement on the civilian level,” he said.
After getting hired on, he was a police officer for 27 years until he retired.
Talking about his personal experience, he emphasized the need for education and support services after being discharged from the military.
“Any help that veterans can get is a blessing,” he said.
With the help of his pastor and friends, he started Operation Military Assistance which helps veterans and their families receive the assistance they need.
When asked about what is being done to help the growing number of veterans who are homeless, he mentioned an annual weekend event in San Diego called “National Stand-down.” The group who hosts it accepts donations of clothing, food, and other supplies for the homeless veterans. The services they offer include meals, free access to a medical staff, ID photos for those who lost there ID cards and a place to sign-up for Veteran benefits.
The Dean of Admissions and Records Lorraine Anderson deemed the event absolutely necessary with over 350 veterans on campus and stressed participation from students to take advantage of the services that RCC has to offer, as well as paying respects to those who have paid the greatest price for freedom.
“It is important that we honor those who’ve served,” Anderson said. “In memory with those who are not with us today we have a table in the back commemorating are POWs and MIAs who are always in our thoughts and prayers, and we honor them also today.”
If you’re a veteran and want to find out how RCC can help you, there is a veteran’s services office in the Bradshaw Center, next to the dining hall.
Veterans Day is a day of remembrance for those who have fought, sweated and bled for our rights and freedoms. Not only for the founders of freedom, but for our sons and daughters fighting overseas. These men and woman understand the necessity of their service for this country and it is fair to say that no matter what stance you take on our decisions as a nation we “appreciate” the sacrifices they have made.
Additional reporting by Megan Siana.