Honoring the service of veterans

November 11, 2014

HPU at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam hosted a ceremony, Nov. 7, to recognize service members who recently earned degrees. HPU Military Campus Program faculty and staff greeted HPU graduates following the ceremony to celebrate their achievements.
HONOLULU — Veterans Day is a time to honor a significant part of the Hawai‘i Pacific University community. Many veterans, service members and their family members choose to study at HPU, which adds to the learning experience.

“Having veterans in our classrooms brings unique perspectives to HPU’s student population, and as alumni, veterans are highly supportive,” said Justin Vance, Ed.D., HPU’s Interim Dean of Military Campus Programs (MCP).

Vance cites the example of HPU alumna U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a National Guard captain and former student of his, who was recently called to serve on the Big Island in response to the Kilauea lava flow. Despite her many duties, she, like other military alumni, continue to give back to HPU, Vance said.

“Educating service members is important at HPU”, said Vance, who joined with other faculty, staff, students and community members at the Military/Veterans Center yesterday, as the university observed a moment of silence to mark the contribution and sacrifices of veterans.

Vance’s own research as Associate Professor of History and President of the Hawaii Civil War Round Table also delves into Hawai‘i’s veterans, but from the U.S. Civil War. Vance recently participated in a dedication ceremony to mark the burial site of Private J.R. Kealoha at Oahu Cemetery.

For 137 years, Kealoha, a Native Hawaiian soldier who fought in the Civil War had been buried without a headstone. On Oct. 25, he was finally given a headstone, with the help of research done by Vance and other members of the Hawaii Civil War Round Table. 

“Private Kealoha represents a group of veterans who are often forgotten. This dedication is particularly significant because it coincides with when his unit went to fight at the Battle of Petersburg and is also close to Veterans Day,” said Vance, who will be the key note speaker at the American Civil War Round Table of Australia’s annual conference in February 2015.

Remembering and serving today’s veterans and service members is a priority at MCP. Staff and faculty attended a recent ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that honored recent college graduates — including those from HPU — and greeted them after the event.

Also, this Veterans Day, Vance is particularly proud that HPU is ranked as a Military Times Best for Vets college. HPU ranks at number 33 nationally and is the only Hawai‘i-based school on the list, which was released yesterday. HPU was also again recognized as a Military Friendly School. The rankings reflect the commitment of faculty and staff to military education, said Vance.

Service members and veterans have educational opportunities, thanks to VA benefits including the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill “which benefit them and ultimately society” Vance said. MCP is especially designed for military service members, their families, and veterans. It offers the flexibility they need, and according to Vance, “MCP is dedicated to helping military and veteran students achieve their educational and professional goals.”

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