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College Veterans Part of 'Missing Man' Event

February 27, 2014 - Veterans attending Eastern Florida State College were joined by others in the community Thursday evening to salute their fallen brethren during a “Missing Man” gathering in Cocoa Beach.

The event was sponsored by Eastern Florida’s Collegiate Veterans Society, which helps veterans transition into civilian life in ways that include attending college and starting news careers.

“It’s extremely important for us to remember the men and women who have paid the ultimate price in protecting our freedom,” said Jason Goodman, president of the Collegiate Veterans Society.

“Honoring our fallen is a very humbling experience and makes you realize how trivial the problems in our everyday lives can be. It makes me proud that we can be part of such an important event.”

More than 100 people attended a dinner and ceremony at the Cocoa Beach Hilton that included remarks from two members of the community who understand the tragic toll of war.

Jeanne Weaver spoke about her son, 1St Lt. Todd Weaver, who was killed by an explosion while leading his platoon on a night ambush in Afghanistan in 2010.

Weaver was a member of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division and had previously served in Iraq as an enlisted man in the National Guard, where he was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division in a Stryker Brigade.

He returned home and attended the College of William and Mary where he joined ROTC. He gained a commission and returned to military service.

The other speaker was Col. Jeffrey Macrander, commander of the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base that has seen extensive combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Macrander has flown missions with Navy SEALs in Afghanistan and is credited with saving the lives of five men. Among them is Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who was pulled out of a village deep behind enemy lines.

The rescue is featured in the recent film “Lone Survivor” that depicts the actions of Luttrell and fellow SEALS, three of whom were killed during a fierce fight with the Taliban.

The “Missing Man” event is part of the college’s expansion of services to former members of the armed forces through its new Veterans Resource Center, which is designed to meet their educational and personal needs.

The help is needed at a time when more veterans are returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and pursuing studies at Eastern Florida, where about 875 veterans are currently enrolled.

The Veteran Resource Center’s expanded services include:

  • Training for faculty and staff on the special assistance veterans may need inside and outside the classroom.
  • A computer work area where veterans can get help accessing information on their VA benefits.
  • Mentoring and tutoring programs for veterans through local veteran and community organizations.
  • Monthly visits from Department of Veteran Affairs’ representatives to assist veterans on a range of issues.
  • New student orientation program tailored for veterans.
  • Having qualified psychologists provide on-campus counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and increasing outreach to veterans through the college’s EFSCares student counseling program.
  • Making regular visits to Patrick Air Force Base and the Naval Ordinance Test Unit and Coast Guard Station at Port Canaveral to provide active duty personnel with information about educational opportunities.

The Veterans Center’s main office is on the Cocoa campus in the Student Services Building (Bldg. 11), Room 212. Another office is located on the Melbourne campus in the Student Services Building (Bldg. 1), Room 122.