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Veterans Resource Center Honors Joseph Straten
A dedicated space for military veterans was unveiled on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College on Thursday and named in honor of a long-time College Board member, community volunteer, and U.S. Navy retiree.
The Joseph C. Straten Veterans Resource Center is located within the Collins Student Center and will provide a quiet space for veterans to build a sense of camaraderie, to relax between classes, and to learn about the resources available to them. The center was made possible, in part, through a grant from Dominion Energy.
“Truly the people that I think most of all for this honor, and it is a tremendous honor, are the members of the Student Veterans Association.,” Straten said, noting that those who have served in the U.S. military comprise only 1 percent of the nation’s total population. “We owe a lot to those who have served.”
Straten enjoyed a 21-year-career in the U.S. Navy and reached the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, the high possible for an enlisted man. During his military career, he worked in all aspects of Navy Aviation Maintenance.
Following his retirement from the Navy, he accepted a position with General Electric Aircraft Engine Group’s Military Engine Division. In that role, he was responsible for logistics support, sales and marketing, depot operations, and flight operational support for national and international military customers. He continued working two decades longer, traveling throughout the nation and the world, before he and his wife, Clara, retired to Southwest Virginia.
In the community, he has served as a member and chair of the Washington County Board of Supervisors and a member of the Washington County Airport Authority. He was named to the VHCC College Board in 2013 and currently serves as chair.
In addition to his vast military training, Straten holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Southern New Hampshire, several certificates gained through internal training programs offered by General Electric, and a County Supervisor Certificate from the Virginia Association of Counties.
Additionally, Straten has served as a member of the Virginia Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for the past 12 years, ESGR is a volunteer-led and volunteer-centric program within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. He was recently named chairman of the Virginia Committee for ESGR and received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for contributing more than 4,000 volunteer hours to the organization.
That award, which was presented by the President of the United States and commemorated by a coin that he carries in his pocket, “pales in comparison to the honor you’ve given me today,” Straten told those gathered at the dedication ceremony.