Vanguard’s Veterans Courtyard of Honor was dedicated yesterday with many veterans, community members and Vanguard staff, faculty and students present. View photos from the event here, and watch a recap film from the celebration here. The Veterans Courtyard of Honor was built to serve as an enduring symbol of gratitude and commitment to honor the service of military personnel and veterans and is a beacon at the entrance to the University. The university itself is built on the land where the former Santa Ana Air Base was located. In 1943 the college received recognition by the government for the training of military chaplains. Vanguard University trained chaplains who have served in WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Vanguard’s Veterans program gives veterans meaning and purpose in their life. Many of the 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who return to California each year experience challenges when transitioning from military to civilian life. Unemployment rates are high and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other transitional challenges have led to an alarming spike in suicides. Every 80 minutes an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran commits suicide. Education is the best transitional bridge for veterans because it provides hope for a better life through increased employability, higher income potential, and restored purpose and meaning through self-discovery.
Sgt. Brent Theobald, USMC, director of Veterans Affairs for Vanguard has many memories and has had much influence on the veterans program and resource center. His reflective words bring a veterans perspective to the Veteran’s Courtyard of Honor. “Some of my closest comrades are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I recently visited Washington D.C. and the cemetery, where memories of serving as a marine in Afghanistan and Iraq flooded back. Each veteran has his or her own memories that are as fresh as the day they were made. Some memories we would like to forget, others stand as reminders of the greatest fraternity in our lives. Emotion overwhelmed me as the sun set across the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. This is a great nation and I am thankful for the men and women who will raise their right hand to continue the legacy of service. Vanguard University is committed to honoring the legacy of all veterans while preparing the next generation as they transition out of the military during this difficult economic time. Thank you to all of those who gave to make this Veteran’s Courtyard of Honor possible to serve our nation’s veterans.”
Below is an article by The Orange County Register in response to this momentous event at Vanguard.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
The Veterans Courtyard of Honor is a dream come true for Vanguard University President Carol Taylor, who began to dream of how to better serve veterans three years ago.
“Today, the dream became reality,” Taylor said during Courtyard of Honor dedication ceremonies Thursday at the Costa Mesa university.
More than 100 veterans and local supporters joined Brent Theobald, the Universities director of veterans affairs, government and community relations, and Vanguard’s Veterans Advisory Board to celebrate the new courtyard and to honor donors who made it possible.
Speakers, specials guests and the unveiling of “value pillars” dedicated to those who served in uniform were also part of the ceremonies.
Vanguard University is a private liberal arts university that is one of the few schools in the nation to have a courtyard specially dedicated to veterans, Taylor said.
“This is a space that visually says to veterans, ‘Welcome home. You are welcome here, and this now your home,’ ” Taylor said.