Arranged inside the building were presenters on one side of the room; the veterans sat at identical tables on the other.
Each vet made a statement when handed a wireless microphone by emcee Armando Musquez.
Presenters, or venders, included services for veterans offered by CBC, including financial advice and enrollment, and non-college services such as LegalShield, which offers legal aid.
The presenters included the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa.
Ken Nagle, a USMC veteran representing the society, told veterans the local chapter was starting a mentoring program for high school students getting ready to enter college.
“We want to get more students into the college system,” he said, noting that “many high school students enroll at CBC with little knowledge of which classes to take or which scholarships are available. And, we know that they are not learning life skills. Instead, they are learning how to pass tests.”
He was speaking only feet away from veteran Nick Cardenas, who also is the president of the Beeville Independent School District board of trustees.
While the ceremony was for the college to honor veterans, as each vet was given the microphone, he seemed to be talking to the scattering of CBC students eating lunch at the rear of the room.
“Stay in school. Stay in school,” stressed Pedro Esquival. “I used my benefits to almost complete my degree. Let’s say I’ve been working for 20 years on it.
“You get your degree, you can double, triple your salary!”
Cardenas credited his VA benefits for being able to earn his master’s degree.
Also speaking briefly to the veterans was new Bee County Veterans Affairs Officer Tony Ferguson, giving his office hours, but, with the recent controversy on his hiring well in mind, declined an interview.
“I’ve been in the paper too much, lately.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.