To view a gallery of the Veterans Day Ceremony, click here.
Duque Represents Student-Veterans at Veterans Day Ceremony
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 8, 2012 – For Omar Duque, commemorating Veterans Day means remembering fallen comrades who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that Americans have today.
But Duque, 32, sees needs for veterans once they complete their military duties and return to civilian life.
“They have a lot of counselors out there but they don’t have much military experience,” said Duque, a graduate student in community counseling at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. “A majority of returning soldiers need counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. With two million troops coming back, there is a need for counseling for that.”
Duque was the student speaker at the university’s 13th annual Veterans Day Ceremony at noon Thursday, Nov. 8 on the Cardenas South Hall Lawn.
Duque was born in Lubbock but attended a portion of his high school years in Brownsville. He graduated in 1998 from Rivera High School. He enlisted in the Air Force when he was 18 and did basic training at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland. He was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont. and served deployments in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
“They were some places I never experienced,” said Duque. “I got to work with the British and Saudi forces. They were different cultures.”
He left the military at 22 and returned to Brownsville where he worked for a construction supply company.
“The recession was hitting and I was lost,” he said. “The first thought I had was to go back to the military. My wife said give college a try.”
Duque received a bachelor’s degree in history in 2011 from the university.
“I’ve always had a liking for anything old,” he said.
After graduation, Duque wants to work at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs so he can fulfill the 3,000-hour clinical practice requirement to earn a Licensed Professional Counselor license.
Duque and other members of Veterans Upward Bound used the ceremony to pay homage to the people who wore and are currently in uniform defending the country.
“Our university welcomes our veterans with open arms knowing what sacrifices they have endured,” said David. F. Rivera, Director of Veterans Upward Bound. “Critics can argue our call to serve, but they can never take away our pride in serving our great nation. This is the reason we honor them through our Veterans Day Ceremony because they are the 1.7 percent of our entire population that serve to protect what all of us freely do each and every day.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Brigadier General Orlando Salinas, Assistant Adjutant General, Texas Army National Guard, and Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army South.
The UTB and TSC Master Chorale, the UTB and TSC ROTC Bravo Troop and American Legion Post 43 of Brownsville also took part in the ceremony.
At noon Friday, Nov. 9 Veterans Upward Bound will host a screening of the documentary “High Ground” directed by Michael Brown. The free screening will be at the Science, Engineering and Technology Building Lecture Hall and is open to the public.
For more information, contact the Veterans Upward Bound Program at 956-882-7607.