Lt. Gen. Flora Darpino, the Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army, helped Rutgers–Camden commemorate Veterans Day by delivering the keynote speech during a luncheon on campus on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Speaking to hundreds of student veterans, alumni, and members of the Rutgers–Camden community, Darpino urged, “I ask that you continue to do what you do here at Rutgers and in this community in welcoming your veterans, and thank them for being true heroes regardless of what their personal sacrifice was and continues to be. The legacy of being an American veteran is a proud and honorable one.”
Darpino, a 1986 graduate of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, is the first woman to hold the Army’s highest legal post. She became the Army’s 39th Judge Advocate General earlier this year.
“There are about 25 million veterans in the United States,” Darpino said. “They are your mothers and your sisters, your fathers and brothers, your classmates, and your colleagues. They’re in your community. They represent the best that America has to offer, and they are part of a team united for a greater good.”
Darpino’s words resonated with the Rutgers–Camden student veterans who attended the event. More than 370 military veterans are currently enrolled at Rutgers–Camden. The office of Veterans Affairs assists them with making a smooth transition from military life to student and civilian life. It also offers advice, counseling, preparation for graduate school, help in choosing careers and majors, and preparation for jobs and internships.
“The veterans group here is a special community that I’m honored to be part of because of the way it welcomes veterans and it’s a tradition that I hope continues for a long time,” said Jessica Cube, a Rutgers–Camden nursing major who served four-and-a-half years in the U.S. Air Force. As a senior airman, she worked in knowledge operations and communications and completed a tour of Libya.
Cube was one of two Rutgers–Camden students honored by the Office of Veterans Affairs during the event as Outstanding Student Veterans, an award that annually recognizes a male and female student whose exceptional contributions help other veterans on campus. Eric T. Howell, a Shamong resident and chemistry major, was the male recipient. He is a 21-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran who attained the rank of master sergeant and served in Iraq.
Darpino said Cube and Howell are “an example of how a veteran understands how to live for others. When you look at what they’ve done in this community, it’s not about them. It’s about others.”
The Office of Veterans Affairs also presented senior criminal justice major Patrick Farrell with the Outstanding Student Contributor award and recognized Mary Beth Daisey, associate chancellor for student affairs at Rutgers–Camden, for her efforts to support veterans services on campus. Bowman & Company, Prudential, and Starbucks were recognized for supporting Rutgers–Camden’s veterans services and events through partnerships.
After the luncheon, Darpino joined Rutgers–Camden student veterans in placing a wreath at the memorial on campus honoring Jeremy Kane, a Rutgers–Camden student and Cherry Hill resident killed in action while serving with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan in 2010. A 5K run is held in Kane’s name every spring to help raise money for a scholarship for Rutgers veterans.