Military Veterans Among College’s Students, Faculty and Staff Recognized for Their Service

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – On Veteran’s Day this Saturday, Nov. 11, folks across the country will pause to reflect upon the sacrifices and accomplishments of past and present military members, and to pay tribute to those who have defended the United States of America.

Veterans eating lunchSUNY Orange took its opportunity to do that Thursday, Nov. 9, hosting a special luncheon for veterans among the college community.

More than 40 people, veterans and non-veterans alike, gathered for the College’s 12th annual Veteran’s Day event, held in the Music Room of Morrison Hall. The luncheon program included renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America by college staff member Angela Elia. SUNY Orange President Dr. William Richards led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Bob Hayward, of the Middletown American Legion Post 151; SUNY Orange student Robert Loria; and Kelly Jonigan, the College’s Veterans representative, offered introductory remarks.

Afterward, the group enjoyed a buffet lunch, with all services provided by non-veteran staff members of the College who volunteered to work the event.

“We hold this event each year as a small way of showing the veterans among our students, faculty and staff just a small part of our appreciation for what they had to give up, and what their families had to give up,” Jonigan, the event’s organizer, said. “I just can’t see that go unrecognized.

“People (from the college community) are so happy to volunteer. It’s their way of saying thank you too,” Jonigan added.

For student Tanya Nelson-Waller, a retired Army veteran who served from 1975 to 1994, the event was a touching salute to veterans.

“It takes courage in today’s environment for the College to do this because of the stance that most people take toward the military. And for the staff to serve us, because this event is about service, it just gives me chills,” Nelson-Waller explained.

“(This event) is important because it recognizes us as veterans and it makes me feel special to be a part of it. And, it is nice that the College recognizes that we are here, and the sacrifices that not only I, but the other veterans, have made for our country,” she added. “This is my third event. Each year it gets better and better. The sentiments behind it are very heartfelt. It warms my heart to see that they care about us and have set aside a few hours to recognize us.”

The assembled honorees spanned generations of military men and women across all branches of the Armed Forces, from soldiers who served in World War II through much-younger veterans just recently returned from overseas tours.

“It’s a time they can get together in one room and share stories,” Jonigan said of the luncheon. “Every other day, you could walk by a veteran on campus and not know they are a veteran. A lot of them are friends already but here they can meet new friends and share stories.”

“Soldiers do what soldiers do. We go and protect and defend. It’s great to see that the College is supporting us,” Nelson-Waller added.

Veterans fill Morrison Hall

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940