Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tradition of Serving Veterans

As our nation commemorated the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, many Americans remembered the patriotism that our nation experienced following those tragic events.

Darcy Breault, office coordinator at the East Valley Veterans Education Center which provides educational outreach and college advisement services to veterans and their family members, recalls how Americans reacted. “9/11 was the first time in my life that I saw true patriotism in the nation,” she said.

Breault views the attacks as an event that unified the nation and encouraged “a rise in military awareness.”

Gary Marabella and Chantele Carr
 Three-year army veteran Gary Marabella reflects on his military service as a “defining moment” in his life adding that “service to your country,” is the greatest honor that one can receive.
The nation experienced an increase in active military personnel with the declared war on terrorism. Many of the recruited servicemen voluntarily enlisted in order to aide their country in a time of need.

“The main reason so many have joined the military in recent years is to support their country after what happened on 9/11,” said Chantele Carr, coordinator of military advancement at Rio Salado College.

Carr said that 9/11 was a “monumental” event in American history and she believes that it has given veterans a connection to the war efforts and will continue to motivate men and women to join the armed forces against terrorism for years to come.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.4 million people serve in the active Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, and more than 1 million serve in their Reserve components and the Air and Army National Guard. Rio Salado College serves nearly 2,600 active military service members and more than 2,500 veterans, representing all five service branches.

Marabella, who now works as a veteran affairs representative in Rio’s Veterans Affairs Office , continues to work with former soldiers to help facilitate an easy transition from military to civilian life.

“There are more veteran students now than we have ever seen,” he said, “Rio Salado’s online classes give students; both active soldiers and veterans, a flexible option for their education.”

Rio Salado recently made the 2012 list of military friendly schools which honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students. Educational support for military students and their families is provided through the Rio Salado College’s military partnerships, Veteran’s Affairs Office, and the East Valley Veterans Education Center .

“The online classes are a really good option and the resources are unbelievable,” said Tom Henry, a Rio student, who spent 18 months in Kuwait, and is active in the U.S. Army Reserve. “There are so many educational benefits available to military veterans. Rio Salado College and the EVVEC make the adjustment much smoother.”

The tragedies of 9/11 have taught loyalty and have inspired Americans to make great sacrifices. Breault reminds us that “9/11 showed us how fragile our freedom really is.”

With more military service and more educational benefits for veterans, Rio Salado College will continue to serve those who fight for our nation.


The East Valley Veterans Center provides educational support and workforce development resources to veterans. It is a collaboration between five of the Maricopa Community Colleges; Rio Salado (host institution), GateWay, Mesa, Scottsdale and Chandler-Gilbert. Community partners for the center include the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Phoenix VA Regional Office and the Maricopa Workforce Connection.

Written by Jesse Woodbury, Office of Institutional Advancement