Vets are Honored and Called to Civilian Service at Veteran’s Day Commemoration

By Erin Jerome

The New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal is the highest military award for veterans in the state, with returning service members eligible after returning from active duty in a combat zone during wartime.  Two Rutgers University-Newark students were honored with the medal as part of Veteran’s Day Commemoration activities on campus on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Colonel Stephen Abel, director of the Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services, presented the awards and praised student military service and the Rutgers University-Newark Student Veteran Organization.  He encouraged student veterans to nominate themselves for the honor.

“We want to give out these medals but we can’t if you guys don’t apply!” he joked.

The awards preceded a talk by Sergeant Rachel McNeill, who served in Iraq and became involved in service as a veteran through The Mission Continues, an organization that promotes veteran adjustment to civilian life and organizes volunteer programs to help vets serve their communities.  Platoons have been organized all over the country to bring veterans and volunteers the opportunity to choose what issues to tackle and projects to work on in their area.  There are already several service platoons in New York, with a platoon in Newark currently in the works. Sergeant McNeill emphasized that the work being done by The Mission Continues all over the country is based on the decisions and efforts of veterans, not the organization.

“It’s interesting to see what veterans can do when they’re given the resources,” she said.

And many are willing to help.  More than half of the attendants at the commemoration were not service members, but supporters with loved ones in the military or just an interest in the cause. The Student Veterans Organization has strong involvement and support from non-veterans.

The self-discipline and pride instilled in so many military veterans became a topic of discussion as Sergeant McNeill shared the work of service platoons across the country.  Business school student Brian Bergen, 35, came to Rutgers under the GI Bill and shared that the military gave him confidence that translated as a business owner.

“I think veterans are more successful entrepreneurs,” he said.  “When you get higher up in the military you have to figure things out without instruction, you aren’t told what to do.”

McNeill asked student veterans to think about what problems in Newark need to be tackled the most as a service platoon is being organized.  The Mission Continues website says these groups work in innovative ways to create partnerships “at the local level to build stronger communities and tackle pressing issues.”

Sergeant McNeill concluded by emphasizing that the leadership of military veterans is needed on the home front:

“The world needs veterans to come home and continue serving in the United States.”

McNeill shared the work of service platoons across the country.  Business school student Brian Bergen, 35, came to Rutgers under the GI Bill and shared that the military gave him confidence that translated as a business owner.

“I think veterans are more successful entrepreneurs,” he said.  “When you get higher up in the military you have to figure things out without instruction, you aren’t told what to do.”

McNeill asked student veterans to think about what problems in Newark need to be tackled the most as a service platoon is being organized.  The Mission Continues website says these groups work in innovative ways to create partnerships “at the local level to build stronger communities and tackle pressing issues.”

Sergeant McNeill concluded by emphasizing that the leadership of military veterans is needed on the home front:

“The world needs veterans to come home and continue serving in the United States.”

Advertisements

About rutgersobserver

The official student newspaper of Rutgers-Newark.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s