The Veterans program planted flags in the quad to celebrate vets week and Veterans Day. (Hanna Petersen/Lariat)
The Saddleback College Veterans Education and Transition Services Program celebrated Veterans Day and the Marine Corps’ 242nd birthday Thursday. Active Marines and veterans were welcomed and honored in celebration of such an important day.
The football team also hosted veterans last week at the home game on Saturday, Nov. 4. They offered free admission to all veterans and recognized their hard work during the time they served. This was just an introduction to what the VETS Program and Associated Student Government had planned.
Chase Tolles, head of the veteran’s student council, hosted what they called veterans week. He invited the different branches of the military to visit campus to honor them.
The Air Force came out on Monday to talked to interested students. Navy Seals and scuba divers had a tent on Tuesday explaining what combat diving is. Wednesday the Army brought a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee, on campus that people could take pictures on.
“People had a lot of questions if they wanted to join and just what everything was about veterans wise,” said veteran Walter Castillo, now a second-year political science major at Saddleback College.
Castillo is a part of the VETS program as well as the veterans student council. He plans on taking over Tolles job as president of the council next semester.
The Marines set up a pull-up bar and held a contest outside of the quad.
With Veterans Day and the Marine Corps’ birthday on Nov. 10, the Marine Corps was the last of the four branches to be honored on campus. The Marines set up a pull-up bar for both students and veterans to participate in. They even had prizes for those who participated in the pull-up contest.
“We have a CFT (Combat Fitness Test) run which is a modified version from what we do in the Marine Corps, but it’s more just to get that experience out there,” Private Aaron Lindsey said.
Flags were planted outside of the Business/General Studies Building the whole week leading up to Veterans Day. Representing all the men and women who fought for our country, the flags reminded students what Veterans Day is all about.
In honor of the Marine Corps 242nd birthday on Friday, a cake cutting ceremony was held to celebrate all the Marines and veterans that were in attendance. Traditionally, the oldest Marine passes the cake to the youngest in attendance.
“The passing of the cake from the oldest to the youngest Marine symbolizes the passing of history and tradition to the next generation,” Tolles said.
The oldest Marine in attendance, retired Lieutenant Colonel Don Lindboe passed the cake down to Private First Class Casey Kono, the youngest Marine in attendance.
The VETS program at Saddleback College has a very prestigious reputation according to Castillo and it is evident by the amount of support and gratitude they show their student veterans and active members.
A barbecue was set up for whoever wanted to join in on the fun. The VETS program was asking for donations of at least $1 and all the proceeds went to helping the student veteran population on campus.
Volunteers from the Associated Student Government helped out with the barbecue by cooking and serving food to anyone that donated.
“Associated Student Government gives students the chance to volunteer at events that different ASG committees host throughout the semester,” said co-director of ASG’s events committee Paloma Chacón. “The veterans barbecue is a prime example of students having the opportunity to get involved with something they care about.”
Volunteers, veterans and active military in attendance were very welcoming to interested students. Veterans and active military engaged in conversations about the event and weren’t afraid to tell their stories.
“It can be really intimidating, but anyone at Saddleback would be more than happy to talk about their experience,” Castillo said.
The Saddleback College VETS program ensures that their student veterans get the help and support that they need in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.