Campus & Community

Veterans breakfast offers up nourishment and thanks

Veterans Breakfast_Story2
At the SGA Veterans Breakfast, from left: Juan Domingo and Joseph Morel, PBSC students and U.S. Marine Corps veterans; Shelley Mitchell, U.S. Army veteran; Kenita Gordon, U.S. Army veteran and public affairs officer, West Palm Beach VA Medical Center; and Matt Watkins, PBSC veterans affairs coordinator and U.S. Air Force veteran.

About 20 veterans gathered for breakfast this morning, and along with the eggs, pastries and coffee, were served a huge helping of thanks for their service.

Sponsored by Palm Beach State College’s Student Government Association, the breakfast was held in the Public Safety Conference Center on the Lake Worth campus. It gave the veterans—who came from PBSC as well as the community—an opportunity to enjoy a meal together and express themselves.

SGA kicked off the event with a special video that featured PBSC students saying “thank you” in honor of Veterans Day. Then the veterans took to the floor.

Chris Booher
Chris Booher

Chris Booher, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and A.A. student, shared a moving video about the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Joseph Morel, also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and PBSC’s student trustee, recited his poem, “Fresh Air,” in which he wrote about “all our brothers who are no longer here to breathe” and the trauma that lies beneath the surface for so many veterans.

All the veterans took turns introducing themselves, some saying a few words about their lives and transition back to civilian life.

“You see how just a little speaking and camaraderie opens up this kind of conversation, and that’s what this is for—to share,” SGA senator Jimmie Banks remarked.

SGA’s president Angela Pena, historian Melina Sena-Mendez and advisor Lindsey Goldstein were very pleased with the good turnout. “We just want to make them feel special,” Pena said. Sena-Mendez added “We want to give back to them for everything that they’ve done for us.”

Veterans Breakfast 2017
At the end of the breakfast, some stayed for a photo.

Juan Domingo, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and an A.A. student who runs a general contracting business with his father, said the event exceeded his expectations. “The breakfast, showing videos, having the students thank us—it all really shows their appreciation. Their insights on how they feel about us definitely meant a lot to me.”

Palm Beach State has a strong commitment to veterans. Matt Watkins, the College’s veterans affairs coordinator and a U.S. Air Force veteran, spoke to the group about the new Lake Worth campus Veterans Resource Center planned for this spring, his dedicated staff and the variety of services PBSC offers veterans. “We’re very unique with our veterans program because we offer three veterans resource centers and over 20 VA work-study positions at the College, and these are veterans assisting other veterans as well.”

With Veterans Day tomorrow, Christopher Sharpe, student and a U.S. Army specialist who served in Iraq, noted that he’s not particular about how people should acknowledge veterans.  “I think just a simple ‘thank you for your service and what you’ve done’ is all it needs to be,” he said.

Or as Morel’s poem concludes: “So the next time you see a veteran anywhere, why don’t you stop and take a second to thank him for his fresh air.”

 

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