John Jay College Pays Tribute to Veterans with Veteran Day Observance Ceremony

John Jay College Pays Tribute to Veterans with Veteran Day Observance Ceremony

John Jay College Pays Tribute to Veterans with Veteran Day Observance Ceremony

With over 525 military and veteran students currently enrolled, John Jay College is committed and proud to support, celebrate, and honor our veteran students, alumni, faculty, and staff who have served our country with its highest form of service. “We applaud our veteran students, faculty, staff, and alumni who honored our country with their service,” said President Karol V. Mason. “We owe them our gratitude, our respect, and our freedom.”

“Every one of you who served, raised your hand and voluntarily said, ‘I will support and defend.’ You risked your lives to do dangerous things because of the promise you made to this country. It is our honor to celebrate you all.” —Richard Pusateri

During a Veterans Day Observance and U.S. Marine Corps 244th Birthday Ceremony on November 7, Richard Pusateri, Manager of Military and Veteran Services at the College, and a retired Captain of the Chaplain Corps in the U.S. Navy, spoke of the tremendous sacrifice service men and women do for our country. “Every one of you who served, raised your hand and voluntarily said, ‘I will support and defend.’ And when it was time to run into harm’s way, you didn’t run away. You remembered your pledge. You risked your lives to do dangerous things because of the promise you made to this country. It is our honor to celebrate you all,” said Pusateri.

Richard Pusateri thanking veterans and active members of the military for their service
Richard Pusateri thanking veterans and active members of the military for their service

“To our student-veterans, we want you to know how proud we are to sit beside you in class. You bring so much talent and such a special perspective to the College. John Jay wouldn’t be the same without you.” —Amber Rivero

Student Council Transfer Representative, Amber Rivero ’21, told the audience of her life as the daughter of a member of the U.S. Air Force and the special place military veterans and families hold in her heart. “One of the things I’m most proud of in life is being part of a military family and military community. We lived on a base in Panama in the ’80s and there is nothing like the bond you form with those in your base community,” said Rivero. “Today, we’re here to commemorate the men and women who so bravely serve our country. We thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your selflessness. And to our student-veterans, we want you to know how proud we are to sit beside you in class. The dedication that you all have to your country, is reflected here in your tenacity as students. You bring so much talent and such a special perspective to this College. John Jay wouldn’t be the same without you.” 

At the end of the ceremony, a cake cutting was held in honor of the Marine Corps 244th birthday
At the end of the ceremony, a cake cutting was held in honor of the Marine Corps 244th birthday

After the Veterans Day Proclamation was read, John Jay Veterans Association President Francisco Garcia-Reyes ’20 came to the podium to tell the audience about his experience working alongside keynote speaker First Sergeant Edward Vasquez. “From the moment I got to Russia, I felt like a was part of the family. I got there around Christmas, and when I arrived I was greeted with a gift, a home-cooked meal, and a warm welcome from the team,” said Garcia-Reyes. “Through the good and the bad, he was there with us leading by example.” Turning to First Sergeant Vasquez, Garcia-Reyes thanked him for believing in him and pushing him forward. “If it wasn’t because of you, I never would have gotten to where I am now. I truly appreciate all you’ve done for me.” 

Francisco Garcia-Reyes
Francisco Garcia-Reyes

“For over 21 years the Marine Corps has given me a family and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” —First Sergeant Edward Vasquez

As he made his way to the podium, First Sergeant Vasquez embraced Garcia-Reyes and told the audience he wanted to talk from the heart. He spoke of his troubled youth and how the Marine Corps saved his life. “I messed up a lot as a teen. I was in gangs, doing drugs, getting kicked out of school, and all my friends were dead. My mom kept saying she failed as a mom and that was heartbreaking to me. So, when I was of age, I joined the Marine Corps and I started winning.” And, while he detailed how the Marine Corps gave him structure and a sense of purpose, First Sergeant Vasquez noted that the most important thing it blessed him with was family. “For over 21 years the Marine Corps has given me a family and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I push these marines because I want them to know they have purpose in life. I want them to see what they’re capable of. It’s about what you want to leave behind. I know these men would give me the shirts off their back, their last dollar, and a roof over my head. That’s what we do in the service. We take care of each other. I’m very humbled to be here. Thank you.”   

First Sergeant Edward Vasquez telling his story
First Sergeant Edward Vasquez telling his story

Learn more about John Jay’s office of Military and Veterans Services by reading our Support Spotlight and watching the video below: