SCCC/ATS, SWMC Honors Vets
KSCB News - November 12, 2014 8:33 am
Seward County Community College/Area Technical School hosted its third annual luncheon to honor United States veterans at noon Tuesday. Veterans of all ages turned out to enjoy a free meal, live entertainment, and gifts provided by the college to show appreciation for their service.
Organizer and United States Navy veteran Chris Hickman said he was pleased with the turnout of more than 20 veterans and their families. Vocal music instructor Dr. Magda Silva brought students to perform at the event, local minister and U.S. Navy veteran Rev. Jack Jacob spoke, and Great Western Dining catering served a free, hot meal.
A few years ago, Silva said, “we realized we were starting to see more nontraditional students enroll here on campus, and some of them were veterans. Chris (Hickman) wanted to do something to honor them.” As part of the event planning group, Silva said she was surprised when students confided they had served in the military.
Hickman, who counted seven veterans currently enrolled, said “it can be hard to get those younger veterans out. They’ve been through their service experiences and they tend to, not hide exactly, but be very low key.”
The college faculty and staff includes many veterans, some of whom showed up for the lunch. Process Technology instructor Harold Fick attended the United States Air Force Academy for two years and participated in military service opportunities during that time. He chatted with Corrosion Technology instructor Neal Cann, who put in eight years of active duty in the United States Army during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
At the next table over, U.S. Navy veteran Jim Odom and his wife, both of whom attend water aerobics classes at the SCCC/ATS Wellness Center and pool, enjoyed the pork roast and pasta alfredo as they chatted with U.S. Army veteran Dick Stoops, who also works security for the college, and other guests.
Across the Student Union Commons, a group of younger veterans, some of them current students and alumni, also enjoyed a chance to visit.
“It’s just another working day for me,” Art Lujan, who served in the U.S. Army, and came to eat with his wife Alma and their son, Alec. “After going to combat and coming back, it’s not a big deal when Veterans’ Day comes around.”
While Lujan is reticent about claiming honor for his service, he feels spouses should receive more notice for the role they play.
“They’re the ones who’ve gotta keep things together back home,” he said. “It’s not easy.”
Fellow veteran Shawna Polk agreed. She served in the U.S. Army and also stayed home as the spouse of a soldier at one time, so she knew both sides.
“Neither one is easy, and both deserve credit,” she said.
Husband and wife Nathan and Amy Harnett nodded. Nathan, who served in the U.S. Army, said his wife “had handled the aftermath of everything, which is the hard part.”
For an hour or so, the young vets took a break. Then they headed back to work.
Southwest Medical Center department manager Tori Underwood serves lunch to a veteran Tuesday in the hospital cafeteria. About 75 free meals were served up by Southwest Medical Center leaders for area veterans and their guests. SWMC hosts a free meal honoring veterans each Veteran’s Day.