LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — Many veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian world once their time in the service is over. One place in Bay County that helps ease that move is Tom P. Haney Technical Center.
The center spent their Friday morning celebrating the veterans who are now students within their classrooms.
“We actually have a large number of students and staff members who are veterans because their career coming out of the military blends perfectly to what we teach. We have many programs like welding, aviation and all of those so since we have such a big population, we wanted to make to take this opportunity to honor them for their services,” said organizer and Haney’s media specialist Suzanne Vann.
The ceremony included a playing of the Armed Forces Medley, a branch recognition, a Missing Man’s Table and a hot BBQ lunch.
Every student in attendance served in the military previously and say Haney’s effort to celebrate them is never ignored.
“It’s great. It’s good to feel appreciated and to be around people who appreciate the military and what they’ve done and the cause for our freedom,” said Army Veteran and HVAC student Philip Doucet.
Two current local military leaders also took the time out to take part in the event.
“I think this is another example of why those of us in uniform enjoy serving here so much and why those who used to wear the uniform, our veterans decide to stay in a community like this because there are places like Haney that once a year around Veteran’s Day are willing to pause and do things like this to really make veterans feel special,” said Tyndall Air Force Base Colonel Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing Commander.
He was joined alongside Commanding Officer of Naval Support Activity Panama City, Commander Kevin Christenson.
“We’re happy to support Haney. These men and women have done great things for the country and now they continue to serve and continue to give so it’s definitely a pleasure to recognize them as they take the uniform off and move along with their civilian life at a place like Haney,” Christenson said.
Talking with students, they agree that finding a place that celebrates their past was important as they continue into their future.
“We’re trying to integrate back into society the way we’re trying to do it, on a smaller scale instead of going to a big college where you’re just another number, another paycheck to them, whatever. It’s a little different. Haney isn’t like that,” said Army Veteran and HVAC student Christopher Berry.
To learn more about Haney Technical Center, click here.