As an Air Force Junior ROTC school, Randolph-Macon Academy cadets often spend a lot of time on the road supporting Veterans Day events hosted by other organizations. This usually prevents the cadets from any on-campus observance, but this year, Chairman of Leadership and Character Mike Starling ‘88 decided to change that by organizing an event he called "Vet Chats."
On Wednesday afternoon, November 7, 2018, Lt Col Starling (USMC, Retired) gathered veterans from on campus and from the local community to meet with the cadets. The veterans from on-campus were ones who the students do not normally see in a military role, including Air Force veteran Christine Bennett P’08 (Upper School academic coordinator), Navy veteran Julianne Cochran P’12 (Spanish teacher), Air Force veteran John Casserino (physics teacher), Army veteran Geo Romanov (cadet life supervisor), and Navy/Air Force veteran Jay Smith (major gifts and planned giving officer). Joining them from off campus were Marine veteran Rob McDougall (commercial real estate/private pilot), Marine veteran Joe Bozell (theology student), and Air Force veteran Pete Fravel (Habitat for Humanity).
Within small group settings scattered about campus, the veterans addressed each R-MA flight. “The veterans shared with cadets about their service and how their service to the nation has affected who they are today and how they still serve their communities today,” said Starling. As time allowed, some of the veterans further engaged the students in a conversation about what Veterans Day is about, and encouraged the international students in each group to discuss what military service in their countries is like.
The cadet corps and the veterans gathered together in front of Melton Memorial Gymnasium after the discussions were completed. There, Corps Commander Rana Diallo ‘19 and the rest of the corps staff personally thanked each veteran on behalf of the cadet corps. The entire cadet corps then saluted the veterans in a show of appreciation for their service.