Student Veterans Association sponsors event for vets, first responders
The Student Veterans Association at Seward County Community College invites local and area vets to come for lunch on campus Friday in honor of Veterans Day. The event, set to begin at 11 a.m. in the Student Union, will feature guest speaker retired U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Richard “Dick” Stoops.
Stoops, who recently retired from work as a security guard at SCCC, compiled a long and distinguished career of military and law enforcement service. The decorated Korean War veteran volunteered for a second stint in the armed forces, serving as supply sergeant at the local Kansas Army National Guard post. After retirement, he signed on with the Liberal Police department as a supply officer, where he looked after “his” men for years, making sure their equipment and uniform orders were filled promptly and correctly. He retired again — and a few months later, he took a job as a security officer at Seward County Community College, where he continued to make rounds, lock facilities and keep order well into his 80s.
Friday’s event will also feature musical performances from the SCCC vocal department, and a free meal for veterans and their families.
“We want to make this a special day for our veterans,” said SVA sponsor Chris Hickman. “We try to observe all the patriotic days we can. This is the first day of choice.”
Hickman says the club serves a unique role.
“From the college’s point of view, our goal is to be a resource to veterans who might feel they don’t yet fit into the traditional groups like American Legion or VFW, even though our local organizations are wonderful and active,” he said. “Sometimes these newer veterans feel a little disconnected.”
Hickman said SVA was started by former vo-tech director Ed Poley “because we saw a need for something to fill the gap for younger veterans who weren’t sure what to do next.”
One such veteran is the current president of the SCCC SVA. SCCC student and education major James E. Guida from Mount Shasta, Calif. Guida joined the United States Marines in 1997 and served as Team-Leader, Squad-Leader, and Assistant Platoon Sergeant. He then joined the United States Army in 2005, serving 13 years as an Infantryman. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. He won many awards including a Bronze Star.
As part of a national organization, SVA in Liberal provides a network that students can access if they choose to transfer to a four-year college or university after completing an Associate degree at Seward. It also provides a local group of veteran mentors, including SCCC employees Hickman, Bert and Ruthie Luallen, and David Hormig.
“We’ve all been there, in the service, and we enjoy creating that sense of camaraderie with students,” said Hickman.
This year’s luncheon looks to be a high point, as always he added.
The luncheon is open to all local and area veterans and first responders, and their families, free of charge. To RSVP, call Hickman at 620-417-1679, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.