By V.G. Garlisi
State Sen. Jose Menendez will unveil building plans for a new veterans center at a Veterans Day ceremony 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Wednesday in the mall.
The ceremony will begin with a color guard procession from Candler Physical Education Center to the mall, where Menendez, President Robert Vela and veterans Jesse Treviño and Roel Gonzalez will speak.
It is hosted by the Veterans Affairs Office, VetSuccess on Campus and the Student Veterans Association.
Treviño is a Vietnam War veteran and alumnus of this college who lost use of his right hand during combat. After coming back to San Antonio, he enrolled in drawing and painting courses here, where he learned to use his left hand, and earned his associate degree.
Treviño earned a bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and a master’s degree in art from the University of Texas, and since then has been creating murals such as the “Spirit of Healing” at Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.
“Jesse Treviño is a SAC alumnus that has overcome adversity to paint murals with his left hand,” veterans affairs Coordinator Odell “Trey” Kelley said.
Gonzalez, a kinesiology freshman, will represent current student veterans. He will describe his triumph over PTSD and the strategies he uses — such as long-distance running — to prevent recurrences.
“I reached out to the VA department to see if I could get any help for the solo run that I did a couple of weeks ago,” Gonzalez said.
He said Sylvia Rodriguez, VetSuccess on Campus coordinator, asked him to speak on behalf of students. After accepting the offer, Gonzalez racked his brain thinking of possible topics to cover. The veteran has decided his speech will be on his transition from military to civilian life.
“I want to touch upon how I struggled with PTSD, and what I’ve done as far as running to overcome that obstacle,” said Gonzalez, who ran a 223-mile Capital to Coast relay from Austin to Corpus Christi last month to raise awareness for veteran suicide.
Having joined the Army in July 2001 at 17, Gonzalez served for over 12 years. He said he has seen the worst of the worst — from his convoy taking fire to people dying right in front of him — and turned to drinking to escape from his anxieties.
“I was bottling it all up and putting myself in a dark corner,” he said. “I was going through therapy and found running could be my medicine.”
Gonzalez wants to share his story with student veterans on campus and reassure them it’s never too late to heal the anxiety caused by combat.
In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center. Lunch will be provided after the ceremony.
Other Alamo Colleges also will host ceremonies to honor veterans.
A Veterans Day ceremony will be 10–11 a.m. Wednesday in the Bowden Alumni Center at St. Philip’s College and noon–1 p.m. in the cafeteria of the college’s Southwest Campus. Ernest Gonzalez, computer support for the IT department, is in charge of organizing the ceremony.
“This year’s theme is ‘The Welcome That Never Was,’” Gonzalez said. “It will be the second year we are commemorating the Vietnam War Veterans.”
At Palo Alto College, the ceremony will be 11 a.m.–noon Wednesday in the Central Courtyard. Call the veterans office at 210-486-3111.
Northeast Lakeview College will host its celebration 10:45 a.m.-noon Wednesday in the NPAC Performing Arts Center on the first floor. Call 210-486-5000.
Northwest Vista College, which opened a veterans lounge and resource center Sept. 9, did not respond to The Ranger before deadline.