California State University, Stanislaus Troops to College Committee and Veterans Affairs Office held the sixth annual “Thank a Veteran” event on campus Wednesday.
CSU Stanislaus has long had a commitment to providing services to veterans on campus.
“We are a university that honors and respects veterans,” said CSU Stanislaus President Joseph Shelley. “We’re very proud of our connection to our veterans. There are a lot of vets here and we are responsive to their needs and make sure they are integrated into our campus community.”
The event featured posting of the colors, a demonstration by the Turlock High School NJROTC competition drill team, numerous veterans outreach vendors, and free lunch for veterans in attendance.
There was a large contingent of Veteran Motorcycle Clubs in attendance, including The North Central Chapter of Patriot Guard Riders, The Combat Vets Motorcycle Association Chapter 32, The American Legion Riders Post 83 of Merced, The American Legion Riders Post 263 of Escalon and The Modesto Area STAR Motorcycle Group.
The honored guest was U.S. Army Veteran Leslie Cruz Cerna, who is now a Business Administration major with a concentration in Accounting.
Leslie is an emerging veteran womens advocate and leader. She comes from a Salvadoran family that immigrated to the U.S. three generations ago and each generation has served or is still serving in the U.S. Army.
Leslie is the only woman from her family who decided to serve her country as a soldier.
Her goal is “to bring more awareness to society that women are soldiers too, and they give up themselves to protect others, therefore, they shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Leslie now serves as Vice Commander of the Turlock American Legion Post.
Another veteran currently enrolled at CSU Stanislaus, Mike Spain, who served in the U.S. Navy as an airman aboard the USS Ronald Reagan before being discharged in 2010, explained some of the special attention veterans get on campus.
“From day one the Veterans Affairs Office and Troops to College people are so helpful,” he explained. “They help us with meeting our advisors, and advisors talk with you for an entire day — most students do not get that much time with their advisors. The staff gives a lot of personal time and communication to support you.”
Mike is in a staff position at the Student Veterans Center on campus and president of the Veterans Club.