News Release, College of Southern Maryland
This Veterans Day and every day, the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is grateful for the men and women who have served, and who continue to serve, in the armed forces. CSM marked Veterans Day 2019 by hosting veterans “Meet and Greet,” Nov. 8 at the Leonardtown Campus, and today students joined the CSM Student Association and Student Life to write thank you cards to be delivered to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. This year, CSM also created a commemorative Veterans Recognition coin for all veterans who attend CSM.
In February, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proclaimed 2019 as the Year of the Veteran in Maryland. The yearlong observance is to raise awareness of the brave service and sacrifice United States veterans and families have made for Maryland and the country. Also in 2019 and for the fifth consecutive year, CSM was identified as a Military Friendly® post-secondary school for veterans and their spouses. The 2019-2020 Military Friendly® listing, which is determined by VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business headquartered in Pennsylvania, honored CSM with the bronze distinction in VIQTORY’s latest listing. A bronze distinction school must score within 30 percent of the 10th best school in its category. In February, when CSM was notified of this distinction, CSM Coordinator of Veteran Affairs Laticia Ragin reported that CSM serves a population of more than 700 veterans who use a variety of military benefits, with the majority being post 9-11.
In an opinion piece published today in PennLive Patriot-News, John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed. D wrote that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 37 percent of student veterans attend community colleges, the highest rate among institutions of higher learning. Sygielski is the president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
“When veterans leave the military service and head back to their hometowns across America, they are faced with the challenge of redefining who they are both as members of the local community and of the workforce,” Sygielski wrote. “Many of those who served did so in combat specialties (infantry, tanks, artillery, etc.) that have little direct equivalency in the civilian workforce. Those currently serving in the National Guard and Reserves also face a lot of the same issues, since many of them deployed for long periods of time in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Higher education is one path that can assist our veterans in their journey to finding a career path to succeed in today’s workforce.”
CSM Alum, current student and Army Veteran Sandra Husband agrees that community college is the way to go. She calls CSM “very veteran-friendly” and credits CSM with helping her transition her military intelligence background to a career in cybersecurity. Husband was recently interviewed by St. Mary’s County Enterprise newspaper about her journey at CSM. She told the newspaper that she picked CSM because it was near her home and had programs that appealed to her.
“I found it to be, really, a good place to start considering I had not been in school for a number of years,” shared Husband, who had served in communications and intelligence fields while in the Army. “The teaching, the instructions were excellent. The instructors were excellent. The teaching environment was really welcoming. … I’d recommend it to just about anyone and everyone who’s thinking about going back to school, especially if you’re thinking about going back, starting out as part-time.”
Husband graduated in May 2019 with a degree in cybersecurity and served as a student speaker at the CSM’s 2019 Spring Commencement. Husband’s moving commencement speech brought thunderous applause when she spoke as a veteran and a wounded warrior and asked every veteran and active military service member in her class, and in the audience, to stand and be recognized for their service to the nation.
Veteran Navy Commander Jeff Foster, of La Plata, earned the bragging rights for the title of oldest graduate when he crossed the stage with Husband to receive his certificate for massage therapy during the spring commencement. Proving you’re never too old to learn, the certificate was the latest academic achievement for the 74-year-old who received his first bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 1967. His second four-year degree came when he completed the physical and academic rigors that came with Officer Candidate School when he enlisted immediately after college.
“CSM is good to veterans and is a great option for veterans who want to broaden their skills,” he said.
Having spent the majority of his military career at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC IHEODTD), Foster retired to work for a local defense contractor, then a home builder before he volunteered for 13 years for the ManKind Project.
CSM is approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, enabling eligible veterans, service members and qualified dependents of veterans to receive VA educational benefits for VA approved credit certificates and associate degrees and VA approved workforce development programs. First-year seminar courses are available to assist veterans in transitioning to the college experience. Concepts taught in this course that add value to the veteran experience are time management; critical thinking; navigating college resources; diversity; social and emotional intelligence; and program, progression and completion planning.
To learn more about CSM’s assistance to veterans, visit www.csmd.edu/student-services/veteran-military-support-services/.