LCCC dedicates new center
NANTICOKE —Luzerne County Community College has more military veteran students than any other college in the area, which is why the school’s administration decided to build a center on campus for the group.
The Patrick J. Solano Veterans Center was dedicated and revealed to the public for the first time Monday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new center contains a television, a sitting area with couches and computers, and a kitchen area.
The center is intended to serve as a place where veteran students and students who are active members of the military can meet up with each other, relax, study, receive guidance and counseling, and even bond over their similar experiences.
“Veterans make so many significant contributions to our college and every college they attend,” said James Shovlin, who serves as a counselor and academic adviser for LCCC’s veteran students. He was a persistent advocate for the center.
“They bring diversity to colleges, because they have life experiences unlike other students,” Shovlin said.
He added that veterans bring a unique perspective to classroom discussions. He gave an example of students sharing their knowledge of the Middle East in an international relations class, since many of them have served in the region and have been eyewitnesses to international conflicts and wars.
However, veteran students also face challenges, such as difficulty adjusting to civilian culture, relating to younger students, and completing coursework while battling post traumatic stress disorder.
“The center that we dedicate here this afternoon will go a long way in alleviating any feeling of isolation that a student might have on our campus,” Shovlin said.
Patrick Solano, whom the center is named after, is a trustee emeritus at LCCC. He grew up in Pittston Township and participated in 23 combat missions as a member of the Army Air Corp in Germany during World War II.
Solano also served in several different state government posts, including deputy secretary and secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources and senior counselor to former Pennsylvania governors Mark Schweiker and Tom Ridge.
“As a member of the greatest generation, Pat went to war along with millions of others and fought to keep our values and our freedom,” LCCC President Thomas Leary said.
Major Gen. William Lynch, former adjutant general and secretary of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, also praised Solano’s lifetime of public service during the ceremony and encouraged the new generation of veterans and current military members to learn from Solano.
“The message to today’s veterans is your community needs you to follow Pat Solano’s example,” Lynch said.
Solano, who was coaxed into speaking during the ceremony, reluctantly stepped to the podium.
“This is very humbling for me,” he said.
Solano also used the moment to pay tribute to his fellow soldiers who were killed while defending their country.
“Let us do this with the idea that this veterans’ center — let it be that my name is on it, but let’s do that in memory of all the guys who didn’t come back.”
LCCC also has established the Patrick J. Solano scholarship for veteran students, courtesy of the LCCC Foundation.