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Students hurrying to class March 29 and 30 may have noticed a pair of uniformed Marines standing in the back hallway of DeMoss behind a table adorned with nothing but a few pairs of combat boots. The men were raising money for an outreach event for local veterans.
One of the men was Cpl. Jared Delello, president of the Student Veterans Group. He said the group was planning a steak dinner for local veterans that would be catered by Texas Roadhouse and would include veteran guest speakers and a free book on dealing with combat stress from a Christian perspective.
Delello said it was a perspective that veterans do not get from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“While you’re in (the military), you have a chaplain there, but when you get out, you really don’t have anything spiritual able to help you deal with these problems through the government,” Delello said. “This (dinner) is a way to come at it. It’s evangelism, and it’s a way to show our appreciation in the most valuable way, I think.”
One of the night’s guest speakers is a Lynchburg area veteran who received a Purple Heart while serving in the Vietnam War. Delello is also hoping to get a World War II veteran to speak and has invited one of the former commandants of the Marine Corps as well.
Thousands of veterans live in the Lynchburg area — more than 1,000 are connected with the American Legion alone. The Student Veterans Group was hoping to raise $500 to make the event possible. In just two days, students, faculty and staff donated $550. Delello said the group appreciates that support.
“At the end, we were counting (the donations), and I looked at my friend and said, ‘It feels good, doesn’t it?’” Delello said. “It does feel good to have that kind of support.”
The dinner has been scheduled for 6:30 April 15. Contact the Student Veterans Group at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.