Veterans – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Thu, 02 Jul 2020 20:17:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.7 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png Veterans – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 Meet Ashley Towers, incoming president of the Student Veteran Association https://today.citadel.edu/meet-ashley-towers-incoming-president-of-the-student-veteran-association/ Thu, 02 Jul 2020 20:17:11 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=17092 The Citadel Student Veterans Association is a student-governed organization that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina]]>

The Citadel Student Veterans Association (SVA) is a student-governed organization, made up of veterans from all branches of the U.S. armed services, that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina.

The SVA works to serve as points-of-contact and mentors for veterans on campus. Members also help guide students on the college’s traditions, policies and procedures. In addition to giving guided tours, members are active participants in extracurricular sports and campus clubs while also giving back to the community by participating in volunteer work through the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

Ashley Towers, a veteran day student majoring in Intelligence and Security Studies, will lead the SVA in the 2020-2021 academic year. Learn more about her, and her plans for the SVA, below.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in a very small town in upstate New York and after completing an AS in Criminal Justice: Police Science. I knew I wanted to continue with education, but I also needed to get out to do something of service and see more of the world. My younger brother decided he wanted to speak with a National Guard recruiter, and we both committed to enlisting that day.

What was your time in the National Guard like?

I served for eight years in the New York Army National Guard’s military police. I deployed to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and responded to Hurricane Sandy. I was an E-5 sergeant when I finished my term. 

What does it mean to you to be a veteran at The Citadel?

I’ve attended college at other institutions, and I have never received the type of faculty and staff support as I have at The Citadel. The history, the prestige and the name recognition of The Citadel is really impressive. Through Citadel alumni, career fairs, networking, events and other veteran students, I have been provided some amazing opportunities to connect with people I look up to and strive to reach their level of professional success. I really couldn’t imagine enjoying and succeeding in my academic career path had I chosen anywhere else.

Why did you want to serve as president of the SVA this year?

I wanted to be more involved with the SVA. Other commitments during previous semesters kept me from being as active as I would have liked to be, and I felt in the upcoming semester that I could commit the time and effort to serve on behalf of my fellow veterans and the amazing faculty and staff that support us. My decision to put my name in the running was solidified when I received messages from other veterans supporting me for president— to me that’s a big thing.

What kinds of things do you want to do to improve the veteran experience on campus?

I hope to continue the path that previous Citadel SVA presidents have laid in advocating for and enhancing the veteran experience — they’ve done some great work in creating an understanding of what and who the veteran student body is on campus. I’d like to foster growth of interaction between cadets and veterans. Luke Darling, SVA vice president, had a great idea last semester to offer cadets who have commissioned an introduction to a veteran to talk about what to expect or just to talk about the service in general. It would be great to see a luncheon or a fun event held between veterans and cadets. Most of all, the veterans on campus have already served our country and in that service, upheld the values and ethics The Citadel seeks to instill in cadets, and I want to promote a veteran experience where our veterans are included, acknowledged and appreciated.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in other than the SVA?

Currently, I am conducting research with Dr. Jordana Navarro. Next semester I will also be serving as the president of The Citadel’s chapter of Omicron Delda Kappa national leadership honor society. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has disrupted one of my favorite extracurricular activities for the foreseeable future—travel! Last year I participated in the study abroad programs to Georgia and Estonia, and additionally traveled to England, the Czech Republic, Finland and Scotland. I just had to postpone until next year a trip I had scheduled for traveling to Grenada in August. I’ve been keeping busy during the quarantine with my Peloton bike that, luckily, I had decided to purchase only a few weeks before the virus set in. 

Ranked as the No. 1 College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 and 2020, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment where military service is understood and appreciated. Approximately 240 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day-student undergraduates, evening undergraduates or graduate students.

]]>
17092
From service to The Citadel, these veteran graduates are good to go https://today.citadel.edu/from-service-to-the-citadel-these-veteran-graduates-are-good-to-go/ Wed, 20 May 2020 20:19:54 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=16479 Photo: Annette, a F-4C Phantom II jet, in front of Murray Barracks As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel is an obvious college choice, not only for cadets]]>

Photo: Annette, a F-4C Phantom II jet, in front of Murray Barracks

As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel is an obvious college choice, not only for cadets who plan on joining the military, but also for those who have already served in the military.

Ranked as the No. 1 College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 and 2020, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment where military service is understood and appreciated. Approximately 240 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day-student undergraduates, evening undergraduates or graduate students.

Dozens of veteran students participated in the virtual commencement ceremonies for both the South Carolina Corps of Cadets and The Citadel Graduate College.

Take a look at some of the outstanding achievements of the veterans in the Class of 2020:

Jesse Brooks

Degree: Psychology, Bachelor of Arts
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Destination: Continue work as the veteran services coordinator at The Citadel

“Going forward, I will use my role to improve on or add more veteran initiatives at The Citadel.”

Juan Campana

Degree: Intelligence and Security Studies, Bachelor of Arts
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Destination: U.S. Federal Government Service

“Earn a spot in life where alumni will stop and exchange words just because you wear the band of gold or even The Citadel Graduate College non-cadet ring. Being surrounded by the influential men and women in the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, faculty, staff, and alumni will be a life-changing experience.”

Thomas Coger

Degree: Counselor Education: Secondary Counseling, Master of Education
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Destination: Begin work on a second Master of Education degree at The Citadel

“If all goes as planned, I will complete the new program in time for the CGC spring 2021 commencement. I will be looking for employment as a secondary school counselor in the Lowcountry area.”

Isaiah “Josh” Lowman

Degree: Business Administration, Bachelor of Science
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Container Operations Coordinator at the South Carolina Ports Authority

“The Citadel is an extremely veteran-friendly campus with an even more helpful VA rep. Also, The Citadel is the most prestigious college in the state, especially in Charleston.”

Read more about Lowman here.

Sean Michael

Degree: Master in Business Administration
Hometown: Oceanside, California
Destination: Continue work in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry near Columbia, South Carolina

“The college has a long, cherished history with a strong focus on principled leadership and service to our state and country. The flexibility of the MBA program makes it possible, but not easy, to complete a master’s degree while working full-time and supporting a family.”

Austin O’Donoghue

Degree: Master of Business Administration
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Principal Engineer, RSDC Group

]]>
16479
Real ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Monuments Men’ artifacts are being preserved by Citadel cadets https://today.citadel.edu/real-black-hawk-down-and-monuments-men-artifacts-are-being-preserved-by-citadel-cadets/ https://today.citadel.edu/real-black-hawk-down-and-monuments-men-artifacts-are-being-preserved-by-citadel-cadets/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2020 21:07:18 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=13794 A professor and some students at The Citadel have found a way to capture military history indefinitely, a way to cork time in a bottle.]]>

Photo: Pierce Huff scans a saddle at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. The saddle is like the ones used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in operations after the Sept. 11 attacks that inspired the movie “12 Strong.” (Courtesy: Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier)

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Thomas Novelly

War doesn’t just claim lives. It can also erase priceless artifacts from history. 

Bombs can claim ancient architecture, military equipment from a monumental mission can be set aside to collect dust, and collectibles can become collateral damage after one firefight. Those few items that have been preserved are on borrowed time, subject to aging and decay like any other material object. 

Pierce Huff (from left), West Courtney, Dr. James Bezjian and Denise Wald prepare a saddle to be scanned into a 3D image at Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. (Courtesy: Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier)

But a professor and some students at The Citadel have found a way to capture military history indefinitely, a way to cork time in a bottle and capture the essence of war artifacts past their expiration date.

James Bezjian, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at The Citadel, has tasked his students to save precious items using state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology that can upload an exact scan that shows the finest details. Their latest mission: saving military mementos at the Army Airborne & Special Forces Museum just in North Carolina, many of them from some of America’s most pivotal missions and conflicts.

West Courtney scans a stuffed military K9 at Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. (Courtesy: Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier)

In addition to helping keep some version of their exhibits alive long after its physical condition has deteriorated, it may be ushering in a new way to experience history. 

“The museum of the future will be digital,” Bezjian said. “These are all made of finite materials that will one day wither and die. A digital imprint is forever.”

Two cadets, Pierce Huff and West Courtney, both senior business majors at The Citadel, spent a day at the Airborne & Special Forces Museum scanning a range of artifacts. 

West Courtney (left) and Pierce Huff, working at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C., scan a saddle like the ones used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. The two Citadel cadets are business majors in James Bezjian’s business management and entrepreneurship class. (Courtesy: Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier)

On 9/11, the world watched in horror as terrorists crumbled the Twin Towers and crushed American morale. The following day, Army Special Forces were sent into the Afghanistan mountains on the only transportation made available to them by the Middle Eastern tribes: small Arabian horses. 

The heroic moment was depicted in the 2018 film “12 Strong,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon. A similar Afghan saddle fitted for a U.S. soldier that was given to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the closest artifact that historians have been able to find. It’s now in the care of the Army Airborne & Special Forces Museum. 

Huff and Courtney spent about 20 minutes taking images of the worn leather saddle with the scanner, which looks like the head of the robot from the Disney-Pixar animated film “Wall-E.”

Bezjian compares it to a “coloring book” and scanning the object fills it in and prepares it for the virtual world. 

Within an hour, it’s uploaded to the internet. Every color is accurate, and no chip, rip or scuff in the saddle goes unnoticed in the virtual image. 

“The Citadel is all about service,” Huff said. “Being able to save these artifacts before they are lost to time is a way to give back.” 

Another artifact the Citadel students preserved was an Army issued M1 steel helmet worn by Walker Kirtland Hancock. He was one of the original team members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Commission during World War II, tasked with recovering precious art and treasures that were looted by the Nazis.

He was portrayed, loosely, by John Goodman in the 2014 film “Monuments Men” that also starred George Clooney and Charleston resident Bill Murray. 

Other items preserved by The Citadel cadets included a 1940s football helmet used by Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, known as “The Father of the U.S. Army Airborne.”

They scanned a German officer’s service cap from World War II, as well as a Thompson sub-machine gun. They even managed to capture a stuffed military service dog, a Belgian Malinois named Hector that served with the Special Forces before dying of natural causes. 

The Citadel has two scanners, each worth about $30,000, that were provided by a donor. With multiple scanners, even larger objects can be uploaded to virtual reality. 

One of the largest projects the team has taken on was scanning the rotor of Super-61, one of the Black Hawk helicopters shot down during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia.

In 1999, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mark Bowden wrote the accounts of the mission and wrote “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.” The true story was turned into an Academy Award-winning film two years later. 

In 2013, the remains, mainly the rotor and parts of the nose, were moved from the crash site and brought to the Army Airborne & Special Forces Museum in North Carolina. Every detail, even dirt and dust on the metal can be seen in the scan. 

Bezjian said there are critics of the technology, chiefly those who worry that the technology could remove an incentive for citizens to visit museums and see artifacts in person.

A piece of the wreckage from Super-61, one of the Black Hawk helicopters shot down in 1993 during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia. This rotor was scanned into a 3D program at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. (Courtesy: Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier)

The Citadel is preserving artifacts digitally by asking for the museum’s blessing. The school has partnered with the Charleston Museum already and hopes to use it to help smaller museums that couldn’t afford the technology independently. Bezjian said the technology is also being considered by the Army Civil Affairs unit as a way to help preserve the artifacts and relics of war-torn countries. 

“Ultimately, you can’t replace it,” Bezjian said. “But it’s re-creation for the sake of preservation.”

]]>
https://today.citadel.edu/real-black-hawk-down-and-monuments-men-artifacts-are-being-preserved-by-citadel-cadets/feed/ 1 13794
Citadel students featured in portrait series of women veterans in the Lowcountry https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-students-featured-in-portrait-series-of-women-veterans-in-the-lowcountry/ https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-students-featured-in-portrait-series-of-women-veterans-in-the-lowcountry/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2019 11:00:30 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=12226 After their service, most of these veterans continue to give back in different ways, even though they are not in active duty.]]>

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Andrew Whitaker

It took more than 71 years for Congress to recognize women as equals in the U.S. military.

With the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, females were entitled to the benefits, jobs and respect that came with wearing a military uniform.

But it wasn’t until 2015 that the opportunity for America’s daughters to serve in all combat roles was afforded to women. It has become more frequent for women to enlist and perform the duties they once were not allowed to do.  


Lashonda Snipes-Davis, 43, a staff sergeant in the Army from 1996 to 2016, holds a stuffed tiger her unit got while serving in Iraq. “They left it on my bed with a card,” she said. She is now a student at The Citadel studying counter-intelligence and cybersecurity.

Ashley Towers, 32, who served in the Army National Guard from 2008 to 2016, holds the Blue Star Service Banner her mother gave her after her service. The sergeant was deployed to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and is now a student at The Citadel studying intelligence and security, as well as criminal justice. “On our last day of training, I got a phone call that my brother was in a motorcycle accident. Everyone had all helped me pack up my stuff, and before you knew it I was on my way driving to see him,” she said. “At that point I knew this was my family and they cared.”


After their service, most of these veterans continue to give back even though they are not in active duty. They shared their experiences, from hardships to pleasant times, and memories.

This project highlights the stories of 17 female veterans — ages 21 to 83 — in the Charleston area.

View the full photo gallery here.

]]>
https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-students-featured-in-portrait-series-of-women-veterans-in-the-lowcountry/feed/ 1 12226
VA secretary challenges Citadel graduates to pay freedom forward https://today.citadel.edu/robert-wilkie-commencement-address/ Wed, 08 May 2019 20:40:02 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=8128 The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.Wilkie reminds graduates of their responsibilities as citizens during commencement address Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie has vivid memories of his North Carolina childhood in Fort Bragg as the]]> The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.

Wilkie reminds graduates of their responsibilities as citizens during commencement address

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie has vivid memories of his North Carolina childhood in Fort Bragg as the Vietnam War lingered—the death toll appearing at the end of the CBS Evening News broadcast that his mother watched every night; a child being pulled from class at the same time a chaplain arrived bearing a folded flag; his father not being able to wear his uniform in town because of anti-war sentiment.

The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.
The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivers a commencement address during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.

“The country as a whole was ugly to people from that conflict,” he said in an interview Friday before speaking at commencement exercises Saturday afternoon for The Citadel Graduate College.

Last July Wilkie was confirmed as the 10th secretary of the VA. He previously served as the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. His father was a highly decorated artillery officer from the 82nd Airborne Unit, and Wilkie himself served in the U.S. Navy Reserve with the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, Naval Special Warfare Group Two, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.  He is currently a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff.

The Citadel’s Swain Department of Nursing, which partners with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, was established in 2016 to help address the nation’s nursing shortage. On Saturday, The Citadel’s first class of nursing students graduated. There were 21 members.

Health care is one of the most important benefits awarded to veterans. According to Wilkie, the turnover for nurses in the VA is low at 8 to 9 percent, while in most health care systems, it’s 18 to 20 percent.

“Serving those who have served, I think, is the most noble mission in the government,” Wilkie said.


Watch Secretary Wilkie’s full commencement address to The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2019


The Citadel is known for both its contribution to the nation’s military and its friendliness to veterans. Approximately 35 percent of the Corps of Cadets earn a commission to serve in one of the armed services. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report named The Citadel the No. 1 Best College for Veterans in the South, up from No. 2 in 2018.  In the spring semester, The Citadel veterans program numbered 236 students.

“We hear a lot in the United States about our rights as citizens,” Wilkie said to the graduating class. “What we don’t hear enough about are our responsibilities as citizens.”

As he concluded his speech, Wilkie reminded the audience that the founding fathers fought for their freedom.

“They gave us more than a nation,” he said. “They brought to mankind for the first time the central idea that we are born free, that each of us has inalienable rights, and that the government was created for our convenience, having only the powers people chose to give it. That is the heritage that you are about to claim, and that is the heritage that many in this audience have already defended in uniform. We need you. We need your great ideas, your strength, and your idealism to help us make right that which is wrong.”

Honorary degree recipient

During the commencement ceremony, Wilkie was awarded an honorary degree for his service to veterans.

The Honorable Robert Leon Wilkie is dedicated to the veterans whose selfless service and sacrifice protect America’s freedoms and ensure its democracy.  As the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, one of the largest government agencies, Mr. Wilkie is responsible for providing veterans and their families with the benefits and services they have earned.  The son of an Army artillery commander, Mr. Wilkie grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  He currently serves in the United States Air Force Reserve in the Office of the Chief of Staff.  With more than twenty-five years of federal service at the national and international levels, Mr. Wilkie has an impressive resume that includes serving as the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.  In this role he was the principal advisor to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense for total force management as it relates to readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, and personnel requirements and management.  For his tireless work in support of veterans and their families and for his lifetime of public service, The Citadel Board of Visitors is proud to award the Honorable Robert Leon Wilkie an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration.

The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, receives an honorary doctoral degree in public administration during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.
The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, receives an honorary doctoral degree in public administration during The Citadel Graduate College commencement on May 4, 2019.

]]>
8128
Baker Veterans Fellowship recipients named for the 2018-19 academic year https://today.citadel.edu/baker-veterans-fellowship-recipients-named-for-the-2018-19-academic-year/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 19:31:20 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4865 Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship Award recipients, 2018-19Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship Award recipients, 2018-19The Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship recipients for the 2018-19 academic year include five veteran students studying through The Citadel Graduate College in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.]]> Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship Award recipients, 2018-19Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship Award recipients, 2018-19

(Pictured left to right: Jesse Miller, Adam Kelty, Gen. Glenn Walters, Tommy Baker, Marc Dolder, Eric Kupper and Jesse Hardee.)

The Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship recipients for the 2018-19 academic year include five veteran students studying through The Citadel Graduate College in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.

The five recipients include:

  • Marc Dolder, USMC, Civil and Environmental Engineering undergraduate student
  • Jesse Hardee,  Exercise Science undergraduate student
  • Adam Kelty, USN, Masters in Business Administration student
  • Eric Kupper, US Army, Computer Science graduate student
  • Jesse Miller, USN, Exercise Science undergraduate student

The fellows are provided with a $5,000 stipend for tuition and educational expenses and a semester-long internship with a supporting agency or organization, arranged through The Citadel Career Center. They may also participate in a retreat and are required to make a presentation about their experiences to the Baker Fellows Advisory Board upon completion, in addition to keeping a log of work and submitting weekly reflections. The program represents one part of The Citadel’s commitment to serving those who served America.

Tommy Baker speaks at the veterans fellowship awards banquet

Tommy Baker speaks during the veterans fellowship awards banquet

The fellowships are provided through the generosity of Tommy Baker who is a veteran, a Citadel Class of 1972 alumnus, and the namesake behind the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business at The Citadel. Baker, founder and owner of Baker Motor Company, studied business while attending the college as a veteran student, enrolling after returning from service as an enlisted Marine in 1968.

Ranked as the No. 1 Public College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2017 and 2018, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment that understands and appreciates military service. Approximately 280 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day student undergraduates, evening undergraduates, or graduate students.

Tommy Baker Veterans Fellowship applicants must be full-time students at The Citadel who are career-centered and community-minded and received honorable discharges from U.S. military services. Applications for consideration for the 2019 fellowships will be accepted August 26 – October 4, 2019.  To apply, or to learn more, please click here or visit .http://www.citadel.edu/root/tommy-baker

To learn more about how The Citadel supports continuing education for veterans, please visit this website.

]]>
4865