On Friday, dozens of people gathered in the Veterans Courtyard of Honor at Vanguard University to honor the men and women who have served our country. The Vanguard University Beautyshop
Quartets kicked off the ceremony with their harmonious rendition of the National Anthem.
The theme that emerged throughout the ceremony was one that veterans, their friends, and family know all too well: freedom comes at a price. “Our families know the price of freedom,” said Sgt. Frank Orzio, USMC, a pastor at Wounded Warrior Ministries before he gave the invocation. Referencing John 3:16, the price God was willing to pay for the salvation of his people, Orzio talked about how we must remember those valiant warriors who served and ensure that their lives are not wasted.
Sgt. Brent Theobald, a Vanguard University alumnus who is the Director of Veterans Affairs at Vanguard University briefly shared the important role Vanguard University played in his transition after returning from tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He reminded the crowd that each year over 30,000 veterans return home to California and that it is our responsibility to help them make this transition a successful one.
President Michael Beals next addressed the crowd, explaining that he’s been surrounded by veterans all his life, including his own father, and that their stories of service helped shape his respect for those who served. He emphasized the need to create a safe space for veterans, citing how trips to the Mohave Desert served as that place for his family members, who helped each other to heal. For Beals, the Veterans Resource Center here at Vanguard University is that safe place for student veterans to heal as they make the transition to their vocational calling here at home.
Keynote speaker Dr. Bill Peters, author of First Force Recon Company: Sunrise at Midnight, recipient of the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and many others, talked about the wounds of war and how they don’t always go away with time. In a refreshingly candid speech, he recounted some of his war stories, emphasizing how difficult the transition into civilian life is for so many and how helpful it would have been to have had a place like the Veterans Resource Center at Vanguard in his own transition.
Peters also talked about his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), explaining that it took him 35 years to realize it was real and had affected him and so many of his comrades. “It is difficult in identifying it and doing something about it is really God’s heart.” Peters ended by commending Vanguard for its willingness “to nurture and to develop that which will really heal our veterans.”
A special recognition was given to Vanguard alumnus, Adrian Michael, who worked for four years as a volunteer leader with the Student Veterans Club at Vanguard University. A non-veteran, Adrian dedicated his spare time to serving those who he feels so strongly deserve all of our love and attention. After receiving the award, Michael thanked everyone, and said, “To student veterans, I want to tell you that I love you so much. You have given me such hope and joy to know that I can make a difference. To non-veterans, defend them at all costs. Remind them of their value and that they’re loved.”
The ceremony ended with the Service Medley, played by the Vanguard Jazz Ensemble. The sound of the crowd’s applause as veterans stood for each Branch of the Military’s melody was a battle cry for those of us who have not served in the military. Unlike the price God paid for our salvation – a price that cannot be repaid – we can repay our veterans by equipping them with the educational tools they need to become the men and women God designed them to be.
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