West Point supports MSU student veterans

Flanked by West Point High School JROTC cadets and other supporters, David Sawtelle, left, and MSU G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans Director Brian Locke hold a check for $3,500 raised for the center by citizens of West Point. The check was presented to the center in a ceremony Thursday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at Nusz Hall received a gift to help continue its mission of serving student veterans at the Mississippi State University.

In a ceremony Thursday morning, the city of West Point presented the center with a check for $3,500 raised by citizens of West Point in conjunction withthe city’s Veteran’s Day parade and golf tournament held in November 2018. West Point ChiefAdministrative Officer Randy Jones, himself a U.S. Army veteran and other veterans fromWest Point presented the check to Center for America’s Veterans Director Brian Locke. Several cadets from the West Point High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)also took part in the ceremony.

“Back in November, the city of West Point put on a Veteran’s Day Parade, its first in many, many years,” Locke said. “As part of that, they did some fundraising for veterans, so they decided to donate the proceeds from donations to the Center for America’s Veterans here at Mississippi State.”

Locke said the funds would go far in helping the center fulfill its mission.

“A lot of the times we’re putting the money toward scholarships to help pay students’ tuition, for hardship scholarships if someone’s having trouble paying their rent, and of course we do a lot of programs and servicesas far as student veterans,” Locke said. “Obviously, these kinds of things need funds, and we use the funds to pay for thosethings.”

Jones said the parade was a success despite rainy weather, and that the city would likely hold a similar event next year.

“We still must have had close to 30 vehicles in the parade,” Jones said. “It may have been one or two more than that. It may have been one or two less, but it was a long procession. It turned out really nice.”

He emphasized the importance of supporting veterans’ issues.

“I tell you what,” Jones said. “There wouldn’t be a community if it wasn’t for them. It’s as good of a reason as I can think of, and that goes all the way back to this country’s origination.”

Jones also shared some of his memories from his 29 years of service as an Army helicopter pilot, including service in Vietnam.

“I’ve got a lot of good and sad memories about it, “ Jones said. “Most of the time it’s good. You certainly meet great people. I was telling those young kids today that they’re this nation’s greatest natural resource.”

West Point High School JROTC instructor Sgt. 1st Class MacArthur Hilbert discussed his cadets’ involvement.

“That’s our main purpose, helping people become better citizens,” Hilbert said. “That’s what we do every day. We’ve got to prepare for that. We’ve got to set good examples for all of us. That’s the best way to lead, by example.”

Presley Hutchens, a retired U.S. Navy chaplain, and one of the veterans who presented the check, also emphasized the importance of supporting veterans.

“It was a great success,” Hutchens said. “We raised $3,500 for the center, and a lot of people were exposed to the center who wouldn’t have been otherwise.”