Challenge Coin Ceremony

IG.VetsCoinThe history of the challenge coin goes back all the way to World War I when a lieutenant ordered bronze coins for his platoon. In a brutal battle with the Germans, one man decided to keep his coin in a leather pouch around his neck when he was captured. Unfortunately, they decided to take everything from the man except his leather pouch. After he escaped, the French found him and they realized the insignia of the unit on the coin. This is why today service members as a tradition carry Challenge Coins.

The Challenge Coin Ceremony is a very touching moment. When I was in the service, I was fortunate enough to receive some challenge coins. All of them are different because they are personal to that specific individual or the unit.

At Vanguard University, they invite the local Veterans community to come on-campus for a Challenge Coin Ceremony to recognize our graduating Veterans. This is one of my favorite things about VU because it really shows they honor Veterans along with their spouses and dependents.

It was a blessing to also have Pastor Frank Orzio (a two time Purple Heart Recipient, Vietnam Marine veteran, and founder of Wounded Warrior Ministries) and Jim Torres (commander of the Veterans Department of California) speak as a part of the program.

The student speaker was Chris Merkle, who shared his testimony and experience in the Marines and transitioning into civilian life. He shared about working as a policeman and yet still wanting to help his fellow veterans who struggled with PTSD. That led him to enroll in Vanguard University so that he can receive his BA in Psychology and eventually pursuing his Master’s and Doctorate.

I personally do not believe I would have been able to get this far in school without this support of Veterans. As a Junior, I still have one more year left, but I have gone to this Challenge Coin ceremony every year since I’ve been here. It’s an awesome time to congratulate Veterans who are moving to that next step in life.

It’s never a farewell to any of these soldiers; they are forever friendships to me.


Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter



The Addams Family Musical

Addams.castMy very first experience ever at a musical was the Lion King at the Pantages Theater in LA. This was one of the most special times of my life because it was also the first date for my wife and me. The musical was amazing, but in reality and in all honesty — The Adams Family musical at Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theater was just as amazing!

Seeing this show at my school reminded me of that first date. I admit, that I was never really interested in musicals before, but now they have become one of my favorite things to do. The cast and crew of The Addams Family were absolutely hilarious! With the exception of one child actor, everyone involved were current VU students. Our favorite character was the patriarch of the family: Gomez Addams. We were impressed to find out that Gomez was played by Andreas Schmidt, who is a freshman studying Theatre as his major. It was one of the biggest roles of the show, and he did an incredible job.

Tickets for Lyceum Theater shows are only $17, and it is well worth it. There are even discounts for kids, senior citizens, and groups.

I think our Theatre Department is outstanding. I will definitely go to more shows at our on-campus Lyceum Theater during the school year and summer.

Even if you don’t like musicals, I recommend that you give it a chance. If you have not already been to a show at Vanguard University, take a date/friend, and go have some fun!

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Junior Senior Banquet

JSBOn Friday, April 22, Vanguard University Student Government Association hosted their annual Junior and Senior Banquet at the Long Beach Aquarium.

My wife continues to tell me that I spend more time at school than with her, so going to this event brought us together. I have to say it was a great reason to get out and spend some quality time with the love of my life. My wife said it reminded her of being at Prom, but this time she was able to be my date with me!

It was a great time for the both of us to get dressed up and enjoy some dinner and dancing. The menu included a buffet of – steak, chicken fettuccini, grilled chicken, and salad. Dessert was brownies, cookies and cupcakes. After we feasted on all that food, we danced the night away.

The DJ played a variety of music of rap, hip-hop, and salsa music. At midnight, the dance ended, and we were exhausted. I cannot wait for the next year’s JSB because I will definitely be there.

I recommend this to any VU college Junior and Senior to go to this event. You are only in college for a short time, and this is a memorable experience! Even if you a Veteran who commutes to campus, is married, and may be older than most undergraduate students, I assure you – You will fit right in.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Veterans Resource Center

VetsCenterWhether you are a Vanguard University Undergrad, School for Professional Studies, or Graduate Veterans student, the Veteran Resource Center is a great place to hangout, network, or do homework.

Before the newly renovated Scott Academic Center, the VRC was extremely small. Now, we have 12 computer workstations and more space to study and hangout. The center has two main rooms that include a soundproof study area and a lounge with coffee, couches, and a TV. You can have the best of both worlds: peace and quiet or laughter and conversation.

The VRC is a great place to get to know all our Veterans here on-campus. Brian Burlingame is our Veteran Coordinator and is a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant with 30yrs of service. It’s not every day do you get to have the opportunity to meet and learn from a prior Marine. He really does have so much wisdom that he shares with us!

We have such an amazing community of veterans who come from all different backgrounds and branches of service here at VU. For me, it is truly a blessing to be part of a community like this — When you are transitioning from the service to civilian life or transferring from another college, we really need each other. No one can go far on their own, so the VRC helps students connect with each other.

Definitely take the time to stop in the Veterans Center and introduce yourself. We would love to get to know you and hear your story. And if there is anything you need, we would love to help!

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Morning VU

IG_MorningVUOn Saturday, April 16, I attended Morning VU, a Vanguard University Admissions event for high school and transfer students.

As a student veteran, it reminded me of when I first had the opportunity to visit the campus as well — I remember walking into the courtyard and meeting current students that were very welcoming. I felt I have already known them. This year, I had an even better experience because of the newly renovated Scott Academic Center.

During the Admissions presentation, I appreciated everything that was said about VU. Our class size is about 17:1 with students and Faculty. You have the competitive advantage as a student because smaller classes encourage you to get to know your peers and professors.

The majority of Vanguard’s Faculty also have doctorate degrees. Some have worked for Fortune 500 companies, like Oakley and Mattel. Professors are approachable enough that you can email them anytime or meet them for coffee to get to know them more. You never know what kind of life lessons you can learn as you prepare to graduate.

If you’re Veteran looking to pursue a Bachelor’s/Master’s degree, I would highly recommend visiting the Vanguard University campus! It’s a great college to attend. Schedule a campus tour here: www.vanguard.edu/undergraduate/visit-the-campus

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Veterans Chapel

VetsChapel.groupOn April 6, 2016, the Vanguard University Veterans Center hosted their annual Veterans Chapel event!

It was great to hear from student speaker Justin Blankenship on how he grew up, joined the Army, and enrolled in the Kinesiology program at Vanguard University. Every person has a unique story, and it’s something that you cannot take away from someone. This is why I personally love Vanguard University’s motto “Your Story Matters” because it truly does matter.

The Veterans Chapel is also a great place to network and meet other Veterans who are students, Faculty/Staff, and alumni here at Vanguard University.

Special thanks to Captain Thomas Gorla, Colonel David Fey and Scott Williams — members of the Freedom Committee of Orange County — for coming out to support our Vanguard Veterans.

I want to especially thank Brian Burlingame (VU Veterans Resource Coordinator), the Veterans club, and the Vanguard community for providing refreshments, special music, and decorations for the event. Without any of these people, these Veteran events would not happen.

Everyone is welcome to come to our Vanguard University Veterans events! Whether you’re a Veteran yourself or just want to show your support, we invite you to join us.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter



Introducing: Jordyn Salter

Jordyn.friendHi, my name is Jordyn Salter! I am from Phoenix, Arizona and currently a Junior at Vanguard University. My major is Business Marketing, and I will graduate Spring 2017.

On March 23, 2009 I joined the Marine Corps as a 0621 Field Radio Operator. After completing boot camp, Marine Combat Training, and The Field Radio Operators course, I was sent to my first duty station in Camp Pendleton, CA serving with 1st Marines HQ/CO Communications Platoon. In 2010-2011, I was deployed to Afghanistan in Helmed Providence as the Regimental Air Officers radio operator. After my deployment, I set a goal to use my GI Bill benefits to play college baseball. I was honorably discharged in 2013.

Transitioning from the military back to being a civilian was very challenging. I knew there was much more to life that was bigger than myself. On January 29, 2013, I decided to make Jesus my Lord and Savior and was baptized. I started my first semester of school at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA. I played baseball for Golden West that summer and fall, but after some additional cuts, they decided to let me go. It was heartbreaking to be cut, but the Lord knew what I had needed… because that’s when I heard about Vanguard University.

Thomas Tatchi, a friend from my church Christ Church of Orange County, suggested that I check out his college in Costa Mesa, which was 10 minutes from where I lived. He offered to introduce me to Coach Rob Pegg and Jordan Moak of the Vanguard University Baseball team. They immediately made me feel welcome and invited me to a team practice. As I continued to sharpen my athletic skills and play baseball, I unfortunately got injured with a pulled hamstring and fractured foot. My heart and soul wanted to play, but I felt my body struggling to recover. I decided to hang up my cleats and focus on pursuing a degree in Business Marketing.

What I appreciate about being a student at Vanguard University is how welcoming and accommodating everyone is. The Veterans Center has made transitioning back into civilian life much easier. All the faculty and staff care and show love to the students.


Vanguard University to me is not a place to just go to school.
Vanguard is my home because it truly embodies COMMUNITY on-campus.


My plans after I graduate are to get my Real Estate license and pursue a Master’s in Finance. I hope to help other service members with their finances and fulfill their dreams of buying a home. My long-term goal would be to develop apartment complexes that service member families can rent at a low cost as they transition back into civilian life.

Through all of my own challenges, I want to continue to give back and help my fellow Veterans! Thanks for reading my story.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Veterans Spotlight: Jonathan McCarthy

Jonathan.boat560My name is Jonathan McCarthy! I am from La Mirada CA and currently a Junior at Vanguard University. My major is Biology, and I am excited to complete complete my degree in three semesters.

I served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic. I served in the U.S. Army for two years before being injured in a training accident and was medically separated.

I heard about Vanguard University through my wife, who received her undergraduate degree here in Developmental Psychology. I was able to come on-campus and meet some of the VU  Science faculty and fell in love with the friendly atmosphere. The small community really did speak to me.

What I appreciate about being a student here is the access to my professors and upperclassmen. The willingness of my fellow classmates to work together to solve problems. The Vanguard Veterans Center is also a great place for studying and connecting with fellow Veterans and traditional undergraduate students.

Since being appointed Veterans Club president, my overall goal for the club would be to better integrate Veterans into Vanguard University campus life. We hope to achieve this by hosting events and encouraging Veterans to engage with other students. Service should not deny the Veterans population the ultimate college experience. In addition, I would like to expand traditional undergraduate involvement  in the Veterans organization.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Jonathan McCarthy
Vanguard University
Veterans Club President



Q&A with Brock Milhorn

Brock MilhornWhere are you from?

From Glenwood Springs, Colorado (I grew up a mountain boy!)


How long, where, and what branch did you serve in the military? 

I served 4 years in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Atsugii, Japan. We were attached to the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, and then I forward deployed all around the world.


What’s your Theater background?

I grew up with a passion for performing and the stage. I have been acting and singing since the age of 6. I love to sing, act, and fake my way through dancing! My next role is ‘Commissioner Kellerman’ in Vanguard University’s production of Life Without Parole, which opens at Lyceum Theater on October 23, 2015. There’s nothing better than feeling God use you through story telling to impact someone else’s life!


What is your current staff role at Vanguard University? 

I am currently working as the Copy Center Specialist in the Information Technology office.


What do you like about working at Vanguard University so far? 

The best highlight of working at Vanguard University is… the VU family. I was immediately made to feel welcome, like I was always supposed to be here. I was treated with kindness and patience, unrivaled at any job previously. I felt God’s hand in everything. How amazing is it that we get to come to work and are able to pray openly and worship freely, whenever we want!


Life Without Parole




Vanguard Honors its Veterans


A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17


At the young age of 18, Marine Infantry Machine Gunner Mike Sudan experienced things in combat that men twice his age would have struggled with. To cope, he turned to his faith: “One of the special things we did was pray as a squad before leaving the wire. That simple one minute prayer lifted the mission up to God. While we knew what was required each and every time, some things are indeed out of our control. Having God in my corner carried some of the weight I felt.” While deployed to Southeast Asia and Helmand Province in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Mike lost several fellow Marines who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. “I believe fellowship through similar experiences is one the most powerful forces we can have in this life. The most positive thing that I took from the Marine Corps was the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie I still have with the Marines I served with.”


Mike.Service560After Mike reentered civilian life, he directed his attention to the next chapter and enrolled at Vanguard University to earn his degree in psychology. As a full participant in the Yellow Ribbon program, Vanguard offers tuition assistance to veterans as a supplement to the GI Bill allowing many veterans to graduate without debt.


One of the unique aspects of VU’s program is the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) located on campus in the Scott Center. The VRC offers veteran students a dedicated space to study, use of the Center’s computers, and a textbook lending program so they can avoid the high costs of purchasing textbooks. Mike is currently serving as President of the Veterans Club and is very grateful for the community’s ongoing financial investment in veterans education at VU. “This continued support allows veterans to harness their skills in an environment that is second to none. Rest assured that we are grateful for the opportunity to pursue these endeavors.


“I hope other veterans can experience the impact the fellowship of Vanguard’s veteran community has had on me,” says Mike. “I have built lasting friendships that I hope to carry throughout my life. If this can be one of God’s many tools in helping veterans, I hope many more can experience it.”


 Give Now to Honor a Veteran

In recognition of Veterans Day and the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom, we invite you to make a gift to the Through These Doors campaign to honor a special veteran in your life. When you support this campaign for the Scott Center renovation, you’ll be helping to support the expansion of the Veterans Resource Center. Gifts of $100 or more will be included on a special recognition display in the building and thanks to a generous donor, all gifts will be matched up to $120,000. Click here to make a gift.