Events held on campus to honor service members
By Chanel Stitt
After watching the morning sun rise and raising the American flag in salute to the Nation’s veterans, students got the chance to hear from those who have served in the armed forces, and WCC staff expressing thankfulness for their service.
“Serving our country is one of the noblest things that you can do,” said Brandon Tucker, dean of advanced technologies and public service careers.
Many people gathered for a ceremony on the second floor of the Student Center on Veteran’s Day to honor those are serving and have served our country.
The ceremony included the WCC Chamber Singers, who sang “Thank You Soldiers” and “America the Beautiful.”
On the second floor of the Student Center, veterans are able to receive assistance at the Wadhams Veterans Center. This includes counseling, advising, and being able to meet other student vets at Washtenaw Community College.
Rachel Barsch, student activities supervisor, realized in 2009 that WCC didn’t have a program honoring student veterans. Since then, it has grown every year and they plan to continue it.
“They [the college] realized that vets need more than just money to help pay for school,” said Barsch. “Veterans need to have a place where they can hang out with veterans and they need their own designated counselors.”
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has given WCC a gold rating for the Wadhams Veterans Center.
Dr. Rose Bellanca, WCC president, spoke about honoring our soldiers on a daily basis. Bellanca explained that people of all different religions and races serve our country, she gave words of appreciation, encouragement, and reflection.
“We have American values and we need to show those values,” Bellanca said.
Bruce Portnoff, a student at WCC and veteran, gave a detailed speech about what it is like to be in the warzone and what it’s like to be back home. It has been a year and a half since he left the navy. Portnoff served for eight years starting in 2007.
“There’s something that they can’t teach you while you’re in training, and that’s experience,” said Portnoff.
He says Washtenaw has made things possible for him and the other veterans. Coming from a third world country, his perspective and experience has been influenced. Portnoff explained that some vets come home and don’t know what to do afterwards. He plans on transferring to the University of Michigan to earn his degree in engineering.
“Here we are on Veterans Day, and the best thing you can do is talk to a vet,” said Portnoff.
“I don’t know if those of you who have served realize that so many of us thank you everyday,” said Bellanca. “Everyday, we thank God for what you have done for us and for what those that are serving now continue to do for us.”