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Col. Fern Sumpter Joins MU Community for Veterans Day Luncheon

Monday, November 12, 2012
Marymount’s annual Veterans Day Luncheon was a time to say, “Thank you,” to all those in the MU community who have served in the U.S. military.

Col. Fern O. Sumpter, joint base commander of Myer-Henderson Hall, was the guest speaker and was introduced by Army veteran Steve Zappalla '10 (Lt. Col., Ret.), who was injured at the Pentagon on 9/11.

Now a candidate for the Ed.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, Zappalla earned a master's degree in Pastoral Counseling from Marymount and is the university's coordinator of graduate counseling clinical experiences and also teaches a DISCOVER class. He pointed out, “The transition to civilian life can be very difficult,” and he thanked the Marymount community for its efforts to understand and support veterans.

In her remarks, Col. Sumpter noted, “Veterans don’t see themselves as special; they were just doing their jobs.” She pointed out, “Everything we do in the military is as a team. We shouldn’t be alone as we transition to civilian life. …The country must rally for vets in times of peace, as well as war. We owe veterans more than thanks.”

Col. Sumpter sees services improving for veterans in recent years. She cited the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which expands education and training opportunities for veterans and provides tax credits for employers who hire those with service-connected disabilities.

Thanks to such programs as the Yellow Ribbon program, which Marymount participates in, and other VA educational benefit programs, more and more veterans are attending college and establishing new careers after their service. In the military, they formed a close-knit community, and that continues on campus.

The Marymount University Student Veterans of America was organized this fall by veterans Hope Sivilai, who is earning her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Patrick Townsend ʼ13, a Psychology major. Townsend, president of the organization, shared advice from his father who served in Vietnam and told him, “A veteran will always be your brother.” He added, “Marymount vets traveled many different roads to get here. We want to help other vets in any way we can.”

Col. Sumpter thanked Marymount for being a “military-friendly” school and for helping veterans successfully transition to civilian life. But on this day and always, it is we, the members of the Marymount community and all U.S. citizens, who owe our veterans thanks and can honor their service with our support.

PHOTO 1 – Col. Fern Sumpter greets veterans Patrick Townsend ʼ13, a Psychology major, and Hope Sivilai, a candidate for the master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
PHOTO 2 – Col. Fern Sumpter
PHOTO 3 – Col. Sumpter and Marymount President Mathew D. Shank (center, seated) with Marymount student veterans
PHOTO 4 – MU student veterans Connor Fleming, a Liberal Studies major, and Timothy Plotner, a History major, chat with Col. Sumpter.

PHOTO 5 – left to right: Robert D. Snyder (Col. Ret.), senior career executive with the VA’s Office of Policy and Planning, talks with Steve Zappalla, Patrick Townsend, and Hope Sivilai.