Before Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver began his legendary career, his father was worried that the young Seaver lacked seriousness. “I really didn’t care about anything that didn’t have a baseball involved,” says Seaver. His father suggested that he join the Marines, and Seaver listened. “The United States Marine Corps changed my life,” Seaver tells Veterans Corner’s Don Buzney, and was a key factor in his development as a major league pitcher. “I don’t believe it would have been done without the Marines.” In 1963, he left active duty and enrolled in community college, and by 1967 he was a New York Met and the National League Rookie of the Year.
The HBO drama, “Taking Chance,” is based on the true account of a volunteer military escort officer who accompanies the slain body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown in Wyoming. The chairman and CEO of HBO, Bill Nelson, a Vietnam combat veteran, recalls his own experience escorting the body of his best friend home in October 1969. “There are too many stories of “Taking Chance,” says Nelson, “and I’ve experienced that firsthand.” Nelson joins The Veterans Corner host Don Buzney and talks of his own wartime experience, and HBO’s programming about the dedication and sacrifices of those who serve, including the critically acclaimed “Band of Brothers” (2001).
Chris Longo had dreams of a National Guard career, but his plans changed in 2008 when he suffered a spinal injury while serving in Afghanistan. Now Longo, who is a student at the College of Staten Island, works at the school’s Veterans Educational Transitional Services, where he helps vets apply to the college and for benefits. Longo was first attracted to CSI because of its proximity to his home and its vet friendly reputation. “This college was in the top 15% of military friendly schools in the whole country two years in a row,” says Longo.
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Returning veterans often face tough financial hurdles that prevent them from applying to college, but Ann Little, veterans’ advocate at the College of Staten Island Student Veteran Center, says the Post-9/11 GI Bill can help. It pays college costs and provides monthly living expenses as well — a major benefit in a rough economy. “Go back to school would be my No. 1 advice to any veteran,” Little says.
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A year after an earthquake devastated China’s Sichuan Province, killing 87,000 including 10,000 children, many buried under the rubble of substandard school buildings, the government has still not compiled an accurate list of those who died, nor addressed accountability. None of this surprises Ming Xia, political science professor at the College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center, who arrived shortly after the quake to help capture the despair of parents who lost children for an HBO documentary he co-produced, “China’s Unnatural Disasters: The Tears of Sichuan Province.â€ “The Chinese government tried to use the Sichuan earthquake as an opportunity to polish its image and to present to the global community a Chinese government that was very responsive and passionate,â€ said Prof. Xia, a Sichuan native who also translated for the film. “We found a different theme.”