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Lt. Col. Alexander Urges More Jobs for Vets at Veterans Day Luncheon

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Lt. Col. Tom Alexander, Jr., a public affairs officer at the Pentagon and an ordained Baptist minister, was the guest speaker at Marymount’s annual Veterans Day Luncheon on Nov. 11. He urged the audience to not only thank veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces for their sacrifice and service, but to turn that support into concrete action by advocating for their employment in civilian life.

Lt. Col. Alexander pointed out, “Veterans and active-duty members of the military have operated in some of the toughest, most demanding environments. Our ability to adapt, be resilient, and persevere despite many challenges enables us to be better students, better employees, and even better entrepreneurs.” He also thanked Marymount for doing “a great job in supporting us.”

This fall, for the fourth consecutive year, Marymount was named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, Inc., a veteran-owned company and publisher of G.I. Jobs Magazine. Marymount was recognized for having strong programs and services for military students. The university also participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, which provides grants that are matched by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Currently, Marymount has more than 200 active duty military service members, veterans, and their dependents pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Military family members make up almost half of this group.

Marymount President Matthew D. Shank told Lt. Col. Alexander, “Colonel, spread the word: Marymount is ready to serve veterans, just as they have served us.”

In another show of support for military students, Marymount created a new full-time position this fall, coordinator for Military and Veteran Student Services, and named Joe A. Blount, Jr., to the post. As a U.S. Army veteran of 24 years and an Army education counselor for 10 years, he can relate to the issues that military students face. Mr. Blount also has a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Marymount.

For the first time at a Marymount Veterans Day Luncheon, there was a Missing Man Table, laid out for one person and full of symbolism, in remembrance of those who died in battle. On a lighter note, and also for the first time, Marymount handed out Veterans Day Challenge Coins, a tradition that builds camaraderie in the armed forces. Challenge Coins provide the holder with the option to challenge another vet for some favor. If the other person has a coin, too, he or she is off the hook! No coin, the favor is called.

With the presentation of the coins, Marymount recognized its most senior veteran, Donald F. Lavanty, Esq., professor of business and chair of the Department of Healthcare Management and Legal Studies, as well as its youngest, Frances Dong ’15, a sociology major from Chantilly, Virginia. Members of MU’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America Association then passed out the rest of the Challenge Coins to the veterans in the audience.
– Veteran Michael Petrovich '14, a psychology major, and another student talk with Lt. Col. Tom Alexander, Jr., Pentagon public affairs officer

PHOTO 2 - Lt. Col. Tom Alexander, Jr.

PHOTO 3 - The Missing Man Table, honoring those who died in battle.

- Left to Right: Michael Petrovich '14, a psychology major and a vet; Hope Sivilai, president of MU's Student Veterans of America chapter and a graduate student pursuing her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Lt. Col. Tom Alexander; Frances Dong '15, a sociology major and Marymount’s youngest veteran.

PHOTO 5 - a Marymount Challenge Coin