In honor of those who have and are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces, the Woodbridge Campus hosted a Military Appreciation Day on November 8. NOVA’s Office of Military and Veterans Services (OMVS) has continuously assisted active duty service members, veterans and family members to achieve their education and career goals.
“NOVA is one of the largest veteran colleges in the country,” said NOVA President Scott Ralls. “This semester we have over 7,000 veterans who are enrolled. Approximately 15 percent of our student body is made up of veterans and/or active duty military personnel. We feel honored and proud to serve our veterans who have served us. It’s a special privilege for this College.”
Rappahannock County resident Chilton “Chilly” Raiford was the guest speaker for the event. NOVA honored Raiford for his service as a gunner on the USS Randolph in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. While serving his country, Raiford was severely wounded and survived two Kamikaze attacks and remained on the ship until the war ended. At 94, he shared his experiences with those in attendance and commended veterans who risked their lives while serving their country.
“I joined the U.S. Navy after graduating in 1943. Throughout my career, I’ve been through three hurricanes, two typhoons, two Kamikaze attacks and 12 major fires,” said Raiford. “I’ve endured battle stress and suffered brain injuries. I am glad to be among the great generation of those who have served. People tell me often that I am a hero, but the real heroes are the men who never made it back, and I honor them.”
Local and national organizations, Post 9/11 Chapter 33, Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA), Marine Gunnery Sergeant Fry Scholarship, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Wounded Warriors, Vocation Rehabilitation Services (VR&E), Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and NOVA Workforce provided information on their respective organizations. Freedom High School Air Force JROTC presented the colors for the annual military appreciation ceremony.