Region 8 Honors Veterans
By Richard Stebbins
The Rocky Mountain Region held its 19th annual Veteran Program on November 5 in a salute to former service members across the region and different federal agencies on the Denver Federal Center (DFC).
The theme for this year’s program was “Service” to highlight the contributions veterans make to society in different ways, not just the time they served on active duty. Veterans serve for different reasons but the common denominator is being a part of something bigger than themselves. Nothing exemplifies this theme more than continuing to serve through federal employment.
James Foster and Katie Gates, program directors for this event, were responsible for putting together all the pieces for the day-long event.
Prior to the main program, Veterans Administration (VA) representatives sponsored a two-hour benefits information fair in the lobby of Building 41. The purpose of this info fair was to bring in specialists to assist veteran federal employees on the DFC in five different areas: Cemetery; Compensation; Education; Home Loans; and Hospitals.
Foster stated that having VA representatives on hand for this event was critically important for veterans working on the DFC.
“Some veterans wait for hours just to see a counselor about one of these items,” said Foster. “Having representatives on hand to speak about services on a walk up basis is a huge benefit to our veterans on the DFC.”
The main program represented the joint military force featuring multiple services and components. The Color Guard and Service Flag bearers were from the Thomas Jefferson High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Patriotic music was played by the U.S Air Force Academy Band, including the National Anthem and the five different service songs. The keynote speaker was Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, Assistant Adjutant General, from the Colorado National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.
Clellan’s remarks focused on her more than 30 years of service ranging from active duty to joining the Army Reserve and finally ending up in the Colorado Army National Guard. Through multiple deployments to foreign countries such as Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Hungry and Afghanistan, she said there is one common denominator...the bonds she made with her fellow service members.
“In every unit I have been in there was always a team that was there to support me,” Clellan said. “There was always a sense of loyalty, you don’t do this job alone, no matter what someone’s race or ethnicity is.”
“We are brothers- and sisters-in-arms, we have a common bond, even if we did not serve together. I think it is important for all veterans to tell their stories to the American people,” Clellan added. “They need to hear those stories and they want to hear them.”
Region 8 associate Rachel Wesley provided some remarks on reflection and remembrance to open the ceremony and Acting Regional Administrator Tim Horne spoke about taking time to reflect and give thanks to our veterans.
“Thank you to all of our veterans, it was really great to see all of the veterans stand up when their service songs played,” said Horne. “We appreciate programs like this to remind us to take the time to celebrate those who served.”
The program wrapped up with a salute to service slideshow with pictures donated by Region 8 veterans depicting their respective military service.