For nearly seven decades, Erie Community College has served and continues to serve thousands of veterans. In this Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley says ECC will be honor them at all three campuses for Veterans Day that will include the dedication of a new Fallen Heroes Memorial Park at ECC's North campus.
"Erie Community College holds a very distinct honor. We have worked with more than 60,000 veterans since 1946," said Dan Forntera, Veterans Services Coordinator for ECC. Forterna said unfortunately in the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, ECC has lost 17-alumni, some in direct combat.
"16-young men and one young lady who gave their lives defending the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. I believe 13 or 14 were in direct combat roles when we lost them. It's actually one of the highest per capita numbers in the country for a college," noted Forntera.
Forntera is sensitive to the needs of a veteran. He served 21-years in the U-S Army and National Guard and is also an alumni of ECC.
"This year -- for Veterans Day -- we will not only read off names, on all three campuses, of the 17 alumni that we lost, we will also honor them with a dedication of the Fallen Heroes Memorial Park at north campus, which will honor our veterans and our first responders - our police and fire -- who have gone through the college and have made that ultimate sacrifice," said Forntera.
WBFO News asked Forntera how he reflects on Veterans Day.
"We're not here for pity. We're here for a little bit of help to understand where were are at to move forward as a group and to make our mark on history," said Forntera. "Those that we have lost -- the incredible young people from Western New York -- that we now have the responsibility to live our lives to benefit them, to shine on them."
Forntera calling the men and women who have served 'true heroes'.