By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013 —
It has been one year since the AMVETS Career Center opened its doors at Pfeiffer University to help veterans in their search for jobs.
On Wednesday, the organization recognized the school’s assistance in making the program a success by awarding Pfeiffer President Michael Miller with its Advocate of the Year Award.
David Bean, commander of the North Carolina Department of AMVETS, made the presentation to Miller at a ceremony on campus at the President’s House.
The award is given to persons who demonstrate outstanding support for the work of AMVETS and the help of its clients.
Dr. Joel Vickers, chair of the Department of Health Administration, served as host of the program.
“This is a very special event for me because I served in and retired from the military. I am a long-term supporter of the AMVETS and I am privileged to be a member of the faculty at Pfeiffer University,” Vickers said.
“So, the confluence of all those things makes this a special occasion for me.”
Bean spoke of Pfeiffer being the home of the first AMVETS career center in North Carolina.
“Since that time, it has become the conduit for veterans information and activities in Stanly County and surrounding areas,” Bean said.
Miller said he was surprised when he received word he would be receiving the award, but said it was accepted on behalf of the entire university.
“I’m really honored,” Miller said.
“It was quite a surprise because I didn’t think I had done anything special.”
He said he was amazed at the work the volunteers at the center do and called their labors and what the center can provide and do special.
“Look at what our military has meant to our country historically and also today. I look back at the history of the military sometimes,” Miller said as he recalled the members of his family who have been in active service.
“I was driving here this morning and I was thinking about the backpack I used for my school books during elementary school,” Miller said.
“That was my dad’s backpack from the service that had his service number on it. I will never forget.”
He noted today’s military is called upon to do many things in many places at the same time.
“We’re fighting in more than one theater across the waters and that’s hopefully going to be winding down,” Miller said.
“But as that winds down, that’s going to mean more activity for the AMVETS career centers as we need to help these men and women who have served our country to find jobs or to further their education at places like Pfeiffer.”
He said there is a lot of potential for good things to come from the partnership between AMVETS and Pfeiffer.
“Pfeiffer is really pleased to have sort of kicked this program off in North Carolina,” Miller said.
“It’s been a real collaborative effort and if I’ve been able to play a small part, I appreciate that opportunity.”
He said it was great to have AMVETS on the campus.
“We are working on an enhanced career center for our students we hope to kick off next year and, in my way of thinking, it’s going to be great for our students just to see what your constituents have to go through in applying for jobs and careers,” Miller said.
“There are things our students can learn from the veterans here that can assist in the services center Pfeiffer is putting together.”
He said the recognition represents what the university stands for.
“Usually when you think of colleges and communities the hands are always out, but Pfeiffer is different. It’s important to look outside of our bounds to see what we can do for others, how we can assist the community, how we can assist people who have served our country so ably,” he said.
“The career center is just another example of how Pfeiffer can outreach and do service that can certainly benefit all.”
Several dignitaries were on hand for the presentation, including Charles Cosgrove, commander, AMVETS Career Center; Gerry Pion, past commander of the North Carolina AMVETS; Master Sgt. Michael Laney; and 1965 Pfeiffer alumni George “Pat” Waters, grandson of Gen. George S. Patton.