Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has a long and proud tradition of helping veterans on and off campus, and the people that matter most have noticed.
During halftime of the women's basketball game, Senior Master Sgt. Scott Brown, of Washington Township, presented Stockton President Herman Saatkamp and Assistant Dean of Students Tom O'Donnell with an American flag that was flown in Iraq on Nov. 7, 2011.
Brown, whose daughter Kelsey Brown is a freshman forward for the Ospreys, also presented the basketball team with a framed certificate signed by all the airmen.
"My daughter plays on the women's basketball team and she is a recipient of the GI Bill benefits for my service, so this is kind of a pay back to the school for allowing her to utilize those benefits," Brown said. "I'm a state employee of the state of New Jersey and this is a state school, so I'm just paying it forward a little bit."
"I'm really proud of him and everything he has done for our family and everybody," said Kelsey Brown, who scored 15 points, the first time she reached double-figures in her young college career.
The Stockton administrators were also very proud and pleased with the event.
"The ceremony was really remarkable," said Saatkamp. "Stockton is building a lot of programs for our veterans. The recognition for that has been national, statewide and tonight we get a flag that flew in Iraq, and the women's basketball team gets a certificate that is signed by all the airmen who flew in Iraq."
The night began with a video presentation of how much Stockton's Office of Veterans Affairs does for veterans. More than 300 veterans attend Stockton, according to O'Donnell, who oversees the Student Veterans Association.
The SVO has raised money for scholarships for veterans through fundraisers, including a golf tournament, and has also raised money for veterans who are homeless.
Stockton also has the Yellow Ribbon program that supports veterans returning home, and may be the headquarters for the VETeach Program, which will pave the way for veterans to get education degrees in the state. The bill is currently in the state assembly.
"We have a strong commitment with the community and with the VFW and the American Legion in the area,” O’Donnell said. "It's one of the greatest jobs I ever had. It's an honor to work with these brave young men and women.
"It is special to have a flag presented to our college that flew in Iraq with airmen who protected the freedom of our country. It's a tremendous honor and something we take very seriously."
After the video presentation, the Absecon Veterans of Foreign Wars Color Guard took the court with New Jersey National Guard Airmen First Class Janelle Stokes of the 108th Wing. Stokes sang the National Anthem for an appreciative audience.
The members of the Absecon Veterans of Foreign Wars also received a round of applause.