by Ivan Valenzuela
College of the Desert’s 5th annual Veterans Day ceremony was staged by the school’s Students Veterans Organization (SVO) on November 7, 2013. It was held in the amphitheater between the Cravens Student Services Center and the Communication Building, and hosted teachers, students, and local citizens. Many of the participants were veterans.
Serving as Master of Ceremonies, Staff Sergeant and USMC Ret. Shawn Nicholson welcomed the crowd at the 12:30 start time. He spoke of what the day meant and what an involvement in the military demands.
“It’s belonging to something bigger than you” he told the crowd. “That’s what the military is about.” Individual flags of the Armed Forces were introduced individually by C. Douglas Kroll (Ph.D. Assoc. Professor, History).
Almost halfway through the ceremony, US Army specialist and COD SVO Vice-President Frank Yturralde IV took to the podium to give acknowledgements to the groups and individuals involved in the day. Along with the Army he served, Yturralde gave mention of many in the community who have helped in the process of easing soldiers homecoming from war. One of which was COD Veterans Specialist Donni Prince, who was welcomed with loud applause.
Still, a common issue that did come up during the ceremony was one within the Department of Veterans Affairs department that has been deemed “ill-equipped” to handle its processing of compensation claims. It’s an issue which saw the creation of a ten bill legislative package by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (Rep. Raul Ruiz being a member) hoping to eliminate the backlog of claims by 2015.
This issue joins many faced by Veterans in their return to civilian life. “We want them to know that they always have a place to call home” said member of the Board of Trustees at College of the Desert, Mary Jane Sanchez-Fulton after the ceremony. “Here in our institutions, we want to serve them the way they served us.”
With closing remarks by Shawn Nicholson ending the ceremony, there was a change in how people reflected on the occasion. With the way soldiers are welcomed home, a warm feeling followed into the weekend through the November 11. “It’s a party, although we don’t think of it that way” said Douglas Kroll. And in his explanation of the process of embracing a veteran, he notes that “the best and simplest way, is to thank them for their service.”