Daytona State College commemorated Veterans Day on Nov. 11 with a Daytona Beach Campus event that featured guest speakers, military vehicles, displays and special recognition of 12 local service men and women of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
DSC President Carol W. Eaton welcomed area dignitaries and special guests, as well as current employees who are veterans and, in particular, student veterans.
“For our more than 800 student veterans, we want you to know we applaud you and your decision to choose Daytona State College to further your education, and we recognize the challenges that you have returning to civilian life,” Eaton said, noting that today’s veterans possess technical skills that are vital to the nation’s economy. “That potential may not be reached if we don’t provide our veterans with the help and support they need to be successful. We will continue to make this a veteran-friendly college because it is the right thing to do.”
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Dr. Melissa Paliani, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, spoke about challenges veterans face when transitioning back into civilian life after experiencing the most unspeakable horrors of war, challenges such as triggers that spark flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance issues, difficulty in crowds and paranoia, all symptoms that fall under the umbrella of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD.
Robert Balsamo, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and coordinator of Daytona State’s Academic Support Center, encouraged veterans to take advantage of their GI Bill benefits, and suggested that those who have not served in the military try to understand that veterans are not looking for special treatment.
“They want to succeed, but some question whether they can,” he said, noting that many veterans have not been in a college classroom in years. “But I believe very strongly that the word failure is not in any veteran’s vocabulary. So, if you see a veteran today, shake their hand and tell them what you are going to do for them.”
The day’s event was organized by the college’s student-run Falcon Veterans Club, which provided lunch to the 12 specially honored service men and women from past wars, some who are now in their 80s and 90s. Thomas Betty, who heads the club, said, “As veterans ourselves, we’re proud to host this event and show the community Daytona State’s commitment to our veterans and war heroes.”
Other organizations that took part in the event were the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Color Guard, which presented the colors, the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association, the Order of the Purple Heart, University of Central Florida PTSD Awareness and the Ormond Beach chapter of Rolling Thunder.
The Flagler/Palm Coast Campus chapter of the Falcon Veterans Club held a separate ceremony highlighted by dignitaries from the Palm Coast area and guest speakers: Lloyd J. Freckleton of Flagler Beach, retired Army colonel and member of the college’s District Board of Trustees; Campus Dean Kent Ryan; and Professor John McNeeley.
(Nov. 11, 2013)