On Wednesday May 24, the Bellevue College Association of Veterans held an event in honor of Memorial Day. All were welcome to come, and lunch was free for those who passed the four stations that were set up around the room.
Each station allowed the students to have a taste of the military experience. The first station was outside of room C130, where students could take a test that quizzed military knowledge. The second station had Meals Ready to Eat and military gear on display. Students could look at the military gear and taste MRE food. At the third station, attendees took a physical training test where they wore military backpacks and did push-ups or sit-ups. The fourth station was a quiz on military history. People who successfully went through all the stations were given lunch provided by veterans.
“Within King County there’re 187 different veteran organizations and support groups, so I got to let them know that they have avenues,” said Fred Ceation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. “If they have financial issues, housing issues, marital issues, mental issues, physical issues, we can help out.” The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a nonprofit veterans service organization. VFW has many different programs and services to support veterans. Ceation came to the event to talk to veterans and offer support. “I do try to ask them to come join the VFW, the American Legion, but it’s not a pressure tactic so you don’t have to join. But by joining, we can make sure we have a strong voice in the government to make sure that veterans are taken care of. But the other benefit is that it gives them the networking that they need,” he said.
John Riser, project coordinator in the Center for Career Connections was also talking to veterans for career help. “They come to me for personal advice or referral. If they’re homeless, there’s some homeless veterans around the area, they come to the Career Center,” said Riser. “I refer them to the right people.”
Besides support from organizations like the VFW, non-military students also came to show their support. “I know that this is a way that we honor our veterans and of the events,” said Abner Pagunuran, ASG vice president of Student Affairs and Pluralism. “It’s always nice to meet our veterans, because I feel like I haven’t met as many and given enough respect to as many.” He then added that it was nice to be there to support the veterans “but to also participate and learn about what they have done.”
“Memorial Day is important for all of Americans to remember their sacrifice and even if you aren’t an American by birth, it is one way to appreciate America for everything that you are able to do here today because of such sacrifices made,” said Hyoung Lee, the Bellevue College Association of Veterans student coordinator. Lee says the Memorial Day event was created to inform students “that there are many student veterans here in BC who are trying to integrate back into civilian life after the service. I hope to show veteran students there is an organization in BC that is the representation of all veteran students.”