Using a Veterans Day program as the backdrop, Delaware Valley College officials on Monday afternoon announced the formation of a new center for military veterans and their dependents.
Named in honor of the late Janet Manion, the center will be a one-stop shop to help veterans transition to civilian life, according to college President Dr. Joseph Brosnan. The center, to be located in Lasker Hall, will be available to veterans, active military and military families, offering information, referrals and support.
“Its primary mission will be to enhance the school experience of our military heroes and their dependents,” Brosnan told the audience gathered in the Moumgis Auditorium in the DelVal Student Center. "Our commitment must be to serve you as well as you've served us, your fellow Americans."
Brosnan said it was appropriate to name the center in honor of Manion, who started a foundation after her son Travis, a Marine, was killed by a sniper in Iraq in April 2007. Based in Doylestown, the Travis Manion Foundation has raised and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support wounded and disabled veterans and their families.
Janet Manion passed away on April 24, 2012 at the age of 58. DelVal honored her with an honorary degree at graduation in the spring.
“She worked past her grief to create something to benefit our fallen heroes,” said Brosnan. “She showed selfless energy and determination as she was inspired by her son’s now famous quote: ‘If not me, then who?’”
DelVal current has 60 veterans in its student body, and expects to add 160 more in the spring. Within five years, approximately 800 students will be served by the program, said Brosnan.
“That’s why this center is so important,” said Brosnan.
Members of the military are trained to work as a team but often find themselves on their own in college, said Brosnan.
“With this center, they will never be on their own,” said Brosnan.
Janet’s husband of 33 years, Tom Manion, thanked the college on behalf of his family.
“This is a special day for our family to know Janet’s legacy will be part of helping veterans, not just today but every day on the DelVal campus,” said Manion, who retired as a Colonel after 30 years in the Marine Reserve Corps.
Manion said he is certain vets who take part in the program “will have a guardian angel looking down from heaven and helping vets come back and make a difference. No one had a greater love for those who serve. Her spirit will be with vets every day for years to come.”
It’s important to recognize this current generation of veterans, some of whom have served three or four tours in a combat zone, he said.
“These volunteers are shining examples of selfless service,” said Manion. “It’s hard to imagine how we can adequately thank them for their sacrifice.”
A simple “thank you” is inadequate given the magnitude of their contributions on our behalf, said Manion. The veterans center at DelVal “sets the tone for what can possibly translate into something that is actionable,” he said.
Steve Chadwick, a retired Admiral and member of the President’s Advisory Council at DelVal, said the center is “a wonderful tribute” to both Travis and Janet Manion.
“The vets who come here because of this center will give as much as they get from this fine institution,” said Chadwick, who helped plan the center. “They have a sense of maturity that will really add to campus life around here.”
"The center will offer services and programs beyond the normal everyday operations," said Brosnan, the college president. "This will be a place for them to come together, creating a community of support and friendship."