Grayson College began its week-long celebration of area veterans on Monday morning with several events, including a Veterans Day ceremony featuring patriotic music and remarks from the GC president.

Grayson College began its week-long celebration of area veterans on Monday morning with several events, including a Veterans Day ceremony featuring patriotic music and remarks from the GC president.


Students from the music department sang "Amazing Grace" and "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee" to start off the ceremony. Librarian Lisa Herbert sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," while a music student accompanied her on the piano.


Grayson College President Jeremy McMillen then addressed the veterans. He recounted a story in which, during a veterans presentation at GC, a student veteran stood up and said, "I went through war to get to this classroom."


"I can’t tell you how impactful that was for me as a president of a college," McMillen said. "We think about college as a privilege for some, but when you hear, ‘I went through war to get to this classroom,’ that changes everything we do as a college to try and help people."


Grayson College has seen an influx of veterans over the past couple years, McMillen said. He said there are currently 750 veterans attending the College. Because of the growth of the veteran student body, GC has added several initiatives to make the school more veteran-friendly. One example is the College Credit for Heroes program.


Freshman nursing student James Dolezalek is a specialist in the Army Reserves and was on active duty from 2008 to 2011. Dolezalek is taking advantage of the College Credit for Heroes program, a cross-matching system that gives veterans course credit for training they received in the military.


"I get a lot of help here," Dolezalek said. "The staff is very proactive."


Another veteran-centered initiative is a new position GC added to the staff this year: the veterans liaison officer, who helps incoming veterans transition from military to civilian life. Currently serving as the veteran liaison officer is Clayton Wilder, who is also a campus police officer and is a veteran himself. Wilder served in the Army from 1999 to 2004, reaching the rank of Sergeant E5.


"We have made an active point to go above and beyond to help (veterans)," Wilder said.


After the ceremony, veterans present received a free lunch coupon.


Grayson College has several more veteran-honoring events planned for the rest of the week, including an educational benefit information lunch on Tuesday and a veteran job fair on Thursday.