By Joan C. McKinney, director, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. –“There’s a saying in the Army that goes, ‘Soldiers are not in the Army. They are the Army.”
Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell said the saying applies to all of the services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
Campbell is the Land Component Commander, Army Element Joint Force Headquarters, Kentucky Army National Guard in Frankfort, Ky. He is the commander responsible for all Army National Guard land forces within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
He was in Campbellsville to honor veterans and discuss how the National Guard might better assist the local area and how the local area can better support National Guard soldiers and veterans within the community.
In a special ceremony at the Flag Pole Plaza on Stapp Lawn, Campbell, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, 92, a 1949 graduate of Campbellsville College who is the national spokesman for The Greatest Generation and who is a member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees; Col. William Ritter, assistant professor of public relations at Campbellsville University, and is public affairs officer of the U.S. Army/Reserve Component; and Dr. Michael V. Carter, Campbellsville University president, spoke at the ceremony.
Chaplain Neal Wade, a 1968 Campbellsville College who celebrated his 50th college graduation, gave the invocation and benediction. He had retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Campbell said the university, and the community, with whom he had meetings, pauses to celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their “devotion, patriotism, selfless service and sacrifice on behalf of all United States citizens.
“We say ‘thank you’ for it is a veteran’s loyalty to our country and their community which helped shape our nation and community into what it is today.”
Campbell said veterans make up about 7 percent of the American population as you are in an exclusive group he told those veterans attending.
He said veterans have lived “extraordinary lives under a common banner: a love of country, community and service to their fellow cities.”
Campbell also paid homage to the families of veterans who, he said, have served and sacrificed and deserve our thanks and administration for enduring twice the burden at home, while their loved one served elsewhere for the betterment of the United States.
He said Campbellsville University is a military friendly school, not just to help today’s service members get their education, but to thrive off of the experience members bring to an organization.
Campbell said since World War II, only 1.7 percent of the total, overall United States population, that’s 1.7 percent of ALL AMERICANS have served in America’s Armed Forces and that number has been on a steady decline since 12 percent of America’s Greatest Generation served during World War II.
He said, today, less than one-half of one percent of America’s population serve in some military capacity to defend our freedoms and liberty.
“At times of great peril, our veterans have kept the faith,” Campbell said. “They have kept us free and enabled America to keep faith with the rest of the world.”
He gave two specific ways everyone can help veterans. He said 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and every 17 hours, a service member commits suicide. Campbell said the Army is the highest among the five services, and the number of veterans and service members taking their own lives is a much higher percentage than the general population.
In 2012, he said, the nation lost more service members to suicide than to combat. “This is shameful, and we all need to try to impact it,” he said.
He urged everyone to not be afraid to engage veterans and, because many are lonely and struggling, they should be checked on.
Campbell said service takes many forms. “Countless times I have been approached by members of the community that wish to thank me for my service. I gladly accept their appreciation, but I turn the gratitude back on them.”
He said he thanks them for contributing to a society worth defending. He urged everyone to have a larger conversation about public service.
“If you are making positive contributions to your community, to society at large, then you are contributing to the collective defense of our nation. Not everyone can serve in the military, but everyone can serve.”
Heilman, who served in the Marines, said he gladly served in the war that United States won. He said he had 11 grandchildren if asked to serve they would serve and give their lives for the freedom, a precious commodity. “I salute you,” he told the veterans.
Ritter said he was happy to be part of an organization, such as Campbellsville University, who wants to honor those who served our country.
He asked all veterans to come forward as he called their names to shake hands with Campbell and Carter who said it was a “very serious honor to honor you.” He said Campbellsville University is a Christ-centered institution that takes freedom seriously.
Ritter led a moment of silence for Sgt. James W. “Sid” Osbourne, 90, a World War II veteran who died Oct. 4. He was a member of the Marion County American Legion Color Guard that was scheduled to present the colors at the ceremony but couldn’t due to Osbourne’s death. Ritter said Osbourne served his country and fellow veterans as a member of the color guard literally until the day he died.
He said Osbourne’s death accentuates the reason Campbellsville University wants to honor the veterans within our country.
“They are a national treasurer who deserve all the accolades we can bestow,” he said.
“We must all take time to thank those who gave us the right to peacefully assemble today and say what we wish without fear of governmental retribution.”
Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 10,000 students offering more than 90 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with Kentucky instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville, and nationally in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay, Jacksonville, Fla. and Chicago. The university also has a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.