High school grads choosing military careers honored
June 6, 2002
KALAMAZOO -- While attention each spring and summer is normally focused on the increasing numbers of high school graduates who choose to enter Western Michigan University as freshmen, University officials have opted to hold a new event to celebrate students who chose instead to embark on military careers.
A special recognition dinner for area teens headed for military service is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 7, in WMU's Bernhard Center. Graduating high school students and their families, officers from West Michigan military recruiting stations and University officials will attend the event designed to honor the students for their decision to serve. About 100 people are expected to participate.
Keynote speaker for the dinner will be Dr. Daniel Litynski, dean of WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a retired U.S. Army brigadier general. Litynski, who was a member of the West Point Military Academy faculty for nearly 20 years before coming to WMU, is expected to encourage the students to embark on a lifelong pursuit of education and to take advantage of the G.I. Bill benefits to pay for their future studies.
"Military recruiters have been telling us for years that this is a group of students who need and deserve the support of their home communities," says John Fraire, WMU dean of admissions and orientation. "Those who decide to defer their education and serve their country deserve recognition, and we want to give it to them. We have been talking about doing this for several years and set the plan in motion last spring. Sept. 11 and the renewed interest in military careers by young people have made this more important than ever."
Fraire says his staff plans to stay in touch with many of the students over the years and have vowed to help them in the future if they choose to attend college when they re-enter civilian life. Many, he says, will be eligible for college credit for classes taken in the military.
Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Rasberry is the station commander at the U.S. Army Portage Recruiting Station and plans to attend the dinner. He says the event will help the young recruits begin to get an idea of how appreciative their fellow citizens are of their commitment.
"These young people are dedicating the next two to four years of their lives to a higher cause," he notes. "Honoring them like this reassures them that they've made a great choice and it begins to give them a sense of the pride and patriotism that will be part of their lives in the military. It will give them a sense of how much citizens appreciate what they're doing."
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org