Student Veterans Group President Named Outstanding Male Student Veteran of the Year

By Tom McLaughlin

Jaron Brown of Mount Laurel has been named Rutgers University–Camden’s outstanding male student veteran from the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at Rutgers–Camden for 2019. Leslie Demark of Gibbsboro is the female recipient. The honors are bestowed during Rutgers–Camden’s annual Veterans Day observance.

“This honor means that the other student veterans and Fred see how dedicated I am to improving the veteran student college experience at Rutgers–Camden,” says Brown, a liberal studies major who serves as an administrative assistant for director Fred Davis in the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs on campus.

A native of Rocky Mount, N.C., Brown served in the U.S. Air Force from 2005 to 2017, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. He began his career as a loadmaster on the C-17a Globemaster III cargo aircraft stationed at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. In that role, he was responsible for uploading and downloading all cargo, ensuring that it was restrained properly, and completing the proper calculations to ensure aircrafts were safe for flight.

Brown was also selected to become a flight instructor and became certified to conduct airdrops – a type of mission where the aircraft doors are opened mid-flight and personnel, boats, gas, food, water, and other cargo are parachuted out the back of the aircraft while it flew over the target area.

During this time, Brown deployed a total of five times with his unit to Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.

He then transferred stateside to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, where he spent three years as a contingency response team chief. In this capacity, he led teams ranging from four to 40 members controlling airfield operations. He also served as an instructor, where he deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to help build up a base that the United States had given to the Iraqis but was then temporarily taken from them by ISIS.

“The Iraq deployment stands out because, as a member of the Air Force, you never think you will be close to combat action like the Marines or Army, but we were right there alongside these guys,” he says.

Upon separating from active service in October 2017, Brown joined the New York Air National Guard the following day and continued his service as a loadmaster.

In fall 2018, he arrived at Rutgers–Camden to pursue a bachelor’s degree, following in the footsteps of his wife, Lizviette Fernandez, a 2018 graduate of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.

“She told me how accommodating Rutgers–Camden was and suggested that I work for Fred,” recalls Brown, who previously attended Rowan College at Burlington County and earned an associate’s degree in applied aviations operations from the Community College of the Air Force.

In addition to his work in the office, Brown became active in the student veterans group on campus and now serves as president. His time at Rutgers–Camden has been “amazing,” he says, noting that he has bonded with a group of veterans with whom he knows he’ll be friends forever.

“I cannot wait to see the amazing things that they do in their futures,” he says. “I’ve also really enjoyed working for Fred. He has helped me in so many ways with my transition from military life to college life and I enjoy helping other veterans with the transition as well.”

Upon graduating in May 2020, Brown hopes to earn an MBA and work for an NBA team, preferably in the business operations department.

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