Daytona State honors veterans
Dozens of DSC staff, faculty, students and community members came together in ceremonies across the college's campuses to honor American service members on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Celebrations featured color guards, guest speakers and presentations by various military organizations.
On the Daytona Beach Campus, following a presentation of the colors by the Embry-Riddle ROTC Color Guard, DSC President Tom LoBasso, a retired National Guardsman, thanked the current and former service members in attendance and noted the contributions Florida's 1.5 million veterans continue to make after returning to civilian life.
"They work in our hospitals, our government offices, our local businesses and yes, they work and take classes right here at Daytona State College." To the student veterans attending DSC, the president said, "As a veteran-friendly college, we stand ready to provide you with the support and tools you need to be successful."
Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino, retired, also carried the day's theme: "To me this is a day to recognize those veterans who have performed profound acts on battlefields around the world and executed their duties with great pride around the world."
Also speaking was Cathy Heighter, president of the Volusia-Daytona Beach Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, whose son, Army Pfc. Raheen Tyson Heighter, was killed in Iraq in 2003. Since his death she has lobbied tirelessly for legislation that increases life insurance benefits to families of service members killed in action, as well as other causes in support of veterans.
"My son was killed in 2003 and today it is 2016, and I'm just getting better at serving my veteran community," she noted. "That's how my son's death has changed my life in a good way, and he knows that he will never be forgotten."
SGA President Olivia Stuart announced a new Phi Theta Kappa chapter initiative to send care packages to troops overseas. "This is a simple and inexpensive way to show our active duty troops that we appreciate the sacrifices they are making on our behalf every single day."
Also commemorating the event was the Daytona Beach chapter of Rolling Thunder, which paid tribute to American prisoners of war and those missing in action.
Earlier in the day, ceremonies also were conducted on DSC's Deltona, DeLand, Flagler/Palm Coast and New Smyrna Beach-Edgewater campuses.
This week, DSC for the third consecutive year was named to an elite list of colleges and universities designated as Military Friendly Schools by the veteran-owned company Victory Media, which recognizes higher education institutions that are doing the most to embrace America's service members and veterans as students.
Daytona State helps its more than 1,300 military veterans transition into college life with a Veterans Center on each campus where students can find camaraderie, tutoring, advising, computers and study space.