Each year, Montclair State University honors veterans and current service members during the Veteran and Military Recognition Week. This year, the veteran celebration kicked off on Monday, Nov. 6 with a flag raising ceremony.
The ceremony is traditionally held outside by the Student Center flag pole, but it occurred indoors in the Student Center conference room due to inclement weather.
Inside the conference room, President Susan Cole spoke about how this event deserves more engagement and awareness from the student community, since there was a very small group of people who attended. Cole also mentioned how Montclair State shows their respect toward student veterans by reciting their names during commencement ceremonies while they are serving overseas.
“For many student veterans, including myself, the notion of walking into a classroom after more than four years serving in the military can be an intimidating, daunting and downright uncomfortable experience,” said Montclair State Veteran Network (Vet Net) President Connor Abbamonte, who served in the U.S. Navy for four years. “I quickly found that the discipline, maturity and work ethic that were instilled in me throughout my military service not only gave me an advantage in the classroom but served as the catalyst to my success here at Montclair State.”
Abbamonte ended his speech by expressing how student veterans’ military experiences are assets to the classroom and campus community.
After the ceremony, the small crowd of students, faculty, visitors and U.S. Army veterans assembled outside to conclude the ceremony with the raising of the U.S. and Montclair State Student Veterans Association (SVA) flags.
As veteran soldiers stood in formation and saluted to the flags, the audience was welcomed with a performance of the national anthem, given by Montclair State student Alexandra Kilcoyne.
Kilcoyne, a first-semester graduate student majoring in vocal performance, expressed her honor to perform the national anthem.
“I think it is important that we honor and pay our respects to the veterans in this country that paved the way for all of us to have such liberties,” Kilcoyne said. ” We need to honor them and sincerely thank them for their service.”
Since the passing of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which resulted in veterans’ benefits including full tuition and fees for in-state colleges, more veterans have returned home and enrolled in colleges nationwide. This results in the difficult journey of transitioning from military service to college student.
According to the SVA’s Hawk Sync webpage, the group has made it their mission not only to pay honor to military vets but also to serve as a “home base” for veteran and military students to assist them with the transition to college life.
The SVA, in honor of Veteran and Military Recognition Week, has posted all the upcoming events and ceremonies on the university’s Facebook page and Hawk Sync website.