Niagara Gazette

November 7, 2012

Veterans Day getting off to an early start

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — While Veterans Day is Monday, two local organizations are getting a head start on honoring area veterans at events today and Friday.

At noon today, Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Our Lady of Peace Nursing Care Residence will honor more than 80 employees, volunteers and Our Lady of Peace residents for their military service during a Salute to Veterans luncheon.

Kenneth Hamilton, former U.S. Navy Operations Specialist First Class and a member of the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Monument Commission will serve as guest speaker for the event.

The luncheon will be held in the community room of Our Lady of Peace Nursing Care Residence, 5285 Lewiston Road, Lewiston.

On Friday, Niagara County Community College will host its annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. at NCCC’s Veterans Memorial Park, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn. The annual ceremony will be led by Anthony Garza, a student in the Business Administration program at NCCC and a former sergeant who served 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony is Dr. Patrick Welch, president and CEO of Rembrandt Charms USA. Welch, a well known veteran advocate, both locally and nationally, is the former director of the Erie County Veterans Service Agency.

Most recently he was the director of the Center for Veterans & Family services and an adjunct professor of Social Work at Daemen College. Welch, a graduate of NCCC, was a recipient of the Purple Heart for his combat service in Vietnam. Additionally, his other awards include: the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Campaign, Vietnam Service Medals, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. The annual Veterans Day Ceremony comes at a time when NCCC was named among the top Military friendly colleges for the third consecutive year. According to Joseph Colosi, coordinator of NCCC Student Development/Veteran Services, the Veteran Affairs Office regularly performs outreach to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, including hosting career fairs. Additionally, NCCC has opened its doors to a counselor from the Buffalo Vet Center to offer readjustment counseling services to veterans twice a month since the spring of 2012. Colosi believes these programs coupled with NCCC’s yellow ribbon program create a military-friendly environment on campus.

“The GI Bill coupled with NCCC’s Yellow Ribbon program enable a number of veterans to attend college with 100 percent of their tuition covered,” he said. “Without these programs, many of our veterans would not be in a position to advance their education. The programs we offer at NCCC make it much easier for a veteran student to achieve their educational goals.” The Veterans Day ceremony is open to the public. Refreshments will be served immediately after the ceremony in the Notar Administration Building lobby.