Virtual, In-Person Events Honor Veterans | Thomas Nelson Community College

Virtual, In-Person Events Honor Veterans

November 12, 2020
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Beth Dickens (left) and Brandie Weaver congratulate each other on finishing the Volksmarch.

Marc Vernon, Thomas Nelson's financial aid director for Veterans Affairs, has participated in numerous Veterans Day events in his career in higher education. He said none has had a day like Thomas Nelson did Nov. 11.

The virtual ceremonies included a pre-recorded performance of the national anthem by the Thomas Nelson choir, 11 seconds of silence, live speakers from Pennsylvania and Colorado, a pre-recorded video from a Thomas Nelson student veteran, and a PowerPoint art show.

“A lot of schools don’t do this,” Vernon said. “They recognize Veterans Day and they recognize Constitution Day and things like that. But it’s not to this level of bringing in speakers and (having) an art show. This is above and beyond, which is great.”

Following the national anthem, Vernon and Kathy Carbaugh, a Veterans Services coordinator, made introductions before the 11 seconds of silence, which came at 11:11 a.m.

The first guest speaker was Adam Shaffer, a park ranger for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. While he explained the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were not part of a military attack, there were numerous veterans on that plane, and many others had ties to the military. (Plus, the Pentagon was attacked.) In his 10-minute presentation, he explained what visitors can expect to see and experience at the memorial.

In a 2½-minute video, student Rebecca Jackson highlighted what the military means to her and how much it has helped her in her educational pursuits.

Sandy Austin, the founder of BIONIC (which stands for Believe it or not I care), spoke from Colorado. Her organization helps, among others, veterans groups across the country whose members are experiencing difficult times.

Brandie Weaver, A Veterans Affairs enrollment services specialist, provided via video a walking tour of the Hampton campus as part of the “10,000 Steps for Vets” program, and Gary Pounder, an assistant director in Veterans Affairs, checked in live from the volksmarch event being held at Sandy Bottom Nature Park. There were three routes: 10k, 5k and a 1-mile fun walk. The 5k route took participants to the edge of Thomas Nelson’s campus and back. More than 34 people participated in the event.

Carbaugh closed the 50-minute Zoom presentation with an art show via PowerPoint. She stressed that when she obtained her photography and graphic design degree in 2013 from Tidewater Community College, there were numerous veterans in her classes. She noticed they used their artwork as a form of therapy. Carbaugh started an annual art show at TCC, and brought it to Thomas Nelson when she came to the College in 2018. Six artists contributed more than 25 pieces of work featuring people, nature and buildings.

“I think it went really well,” Vernon said of the entire day’s events.

He said honoring veterans is really important because of the College’s close ties to the military community.

“I think it’s huge, to show support, that we care about them,” he said. “This is a unique college because we’re surrounded by the military. … So we really need to do things like this to step up and show appreciation for our active duty military and our veterans.”

Alicia Riley, the College’s Special Events manager, said of the virtual event was a huge success.

“It was excellent,” she said. “To be able to bring in people from different places to connect with us, for me, that’s special.”

For those who missed the presentation, it soon will be posted to Thomas Nelson’s YouTube channel.