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College honors student veterans at ceremony
Posted 04/29/2019 11:04AM

By Lauren McDonald Apr 26, 2019

College of Coastal Georgia VALOR Student Veterans Organization vice president Samuel Gordy, left, and president Dwayne Carson applaud faculty members who have supported the organization throughout the year during the VALOR Military and Community Partner Appreciation ceremony Thursday on campus. (Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

College of Coastal Georgia works year-round to be an inclusive campus for veteran students.

Work done by groups like VALOR, a student veterans organization, and support from the college leadership both play key roles in making the campus welcoming.

And once a year, the college hosts a ceremony to honor its veterans.

The college held the annual Military & Community Partner Appreciation Ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the service of faculty, staff and students as well as the work of community partners.

"We really believe that veterans add to this amazing tapestry of our campus and our students," said Scott Williamson, interim vice president for advancement at the college. "... Diversity is defined in a lot of different ways, and we really feel that the diversity of our student body, including our veterans and those involved in the military, makes this a dynamic place that we can all join in."

Ray Crouch, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy and Navy fighter pilot, shared his own experience balancing the responsibilities of serving in the military with the importance of receiving a college education.

"I always thought of that degree as a key — a key that was going to open doors that you would not have available to you another way," said Crouch, who serves as the president of Kings Bay's chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

Crouch has worked closely with the college for several years and previously served on the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation.

"My first introduction to VALOR was about 2015," Crouch said. "Greg Aloia was the president here ... He really was passionate about making this a veteran-friendly campus."

Aloia asked Crouch to serve on the college's foundation, which Crouch did for three years.

"He really wanted not only veterans in the school — he wanted veterans on the foundation," Crouch said.

Aloia also helped set up a veterans' lounge at the college, which continues to be offered today.

Dwayne Carson, the president of VALOR, thanked the many supporters at the college and in the community who have continued to serve student veterans. Carson will graduate this May, and he said the college has been a welcoming place throughout his time there.

"It's kind of sad because I feel like everyone here has been my family since I've been here," Carson said.

Republished with the permission of The Brunswick News. Published at The Brunswick News.

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