Honoring TSTC Vets: Annual event honors local veterans who served in the armed forces

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebration on Friday to honor those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

TSTC’s Veterans Day Celebration is an annual tradition to give back and celebrate veterans and the service they have given.

TSTC Veteran Program Officer Jose Villegas said that as an Army veteran himself he knows firsthand how honored he feels when someone thanks him for his service or shows their appreciation.

“I feel a sense of pride when I know that veterans are getting support from their community,” Villegas said. “It’s a big deal and I want other veterans to feel this. A simple thank you and an acknowledgment goes a long way.”

Hector Yanez, TSTC vice president of Instructional Support, opened the ceremony with a few words of appreciation.

“It is my pleasure to be in the presence of those servicemen and servicewomen who serve or have served,” he said. “It takes courage and sacrifice from you and your families for what you do for our country.”

He described the ceremony as a tribute to remind veterans that they are always remembered.

Continuing with tradition, a local veteran was invited to be the guest speaker.

Pedro Saldana, Army veteran and South Texas Veteran Education Coordinator for the Texas Veterans Commission, addressed TSTC’s veteran faculty, staff and students and offered some advice.

“We need to help our veterans,” he said.

He went on to explain that the biggest support veterans can have will come from their families.

“Without the support of our families, we wouldn’t have been able to complete the battles that we faced,” he said. “Even when we return home, the war is still not over.”

Saldana also thanked TSTC for the various ways the college is helping veterans.

TSTC serves nearly 200 veterans in Harlingen and more than 700 statewide.

“Without the type of help our veterans receive at TSTC, they would not be able to continue their education,” said Saldana. “It is through everyone’s support, care and help that they can continue their mission of an education.”

The ceremony also included the presentation and retiring of colors; a flag-folding presentation by the Harlingen High School South Air Force Junior ROTC; a tribute to prisoners of war and missing in action by the American Legion 15th District drill team; and a lunch catered by TSTC alumnus Frank Macias, owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen.

“It is an honor to be invited back to my alma mater for such a special occasion,” said Macias. “This is the least I can do for those who protect our freedoms. I want them to know they are not forgotten.”

The ceremony concluded with special recognition for those who contributed to the event and with last words from Yanez.

“Thank you again for your service and sacrifice,” said Yanez. “God bless you, God bless your families, God bless our troops and God bless America.”