By Naeisha Rose
Members of the U.S. Marines, Air Force, the Navy, the Army and the Coast Guard dating as far back as the Korean War were honored at St. John’s University in celebration of Veterans Day.
The retired servicemen and women erupted in applause at the school’s D’Angelo Center located at 8000 Utopia Parkway, when state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who is on the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, announced he will be working to increase service to the St. Albans VA Hospital so that Queens veterans wouldn’t have to leave the borough for health services.
“It is my hope one day that we will restore that VA Hospital to a 24-hour full-service hospital so our veterans shouldn’t have to schlep all the way to Brooklyn,” said Comrie. “Our veterans deserve to have as much comfort as possible…they are truly the lifeblood of what makes America great.”
After his speech, pop singer Theresa Sareo, an amputee who lost her entire right leg after being hit by an SUV driven by an impaired driver in 2002, presented her documentary, “Theresa Sareo: Alive Again,” which is about her journey back into music after visiting wounded warriors from the Iraq War in VA Hospitals across the country and finding inspiration to move forward in life.
Throughout the documentary, she highlighted the struggles of the many wounded vets she has met over the years and the support the VA Hospitals provides for them.
Afterward, she sang her hit military anthem, “Through A Soldier’s Eyes,” and later sung “God Bless the U.S.A.” with the retired servicemen and women who joined her in singing the hit song.
Marine Reservist Geraldina Salcedo and Marine Corporal Matthew Bosche, a married couple at the school living in Jamaica, also joined in on “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Salcedo served as a reservist from 2011 to 2017 in Brooklyn and was deployed to Djibouti and Kenya three times, and is expected to graduate this winter with a degree in criminal justice.
“Our unit built basketball hoops for orphanages in Africa and hung out with the kids there,” said Salcedo. “We also tried to help the African military better defend themselves to be more resilient against terrorists.”
Once she graduates from the undergraduate program at the school she hopes to pursue her Master’s in Criminology at St. John’s and later join the FBI.
From 2012 to 2017 Bosche was stationed in California, North Carolina and then Brooklyn — where he met his wife — and is in his second year at St. John’s studying to become an English teacher.
“I was a technical controller,” said Bosche. “We are operators and maintainers of all kinds of communication equipment from radios to satellite terminals to making ethernet cables.”
Throughout his time working in communications for the Marines, Bosche instructed fellow soldiers on how to use the equipment and hopes to carry his teaching skills into a career as a high school English teacher.
“Having the opportunity to teach people and giving them the self-actualization that …I’m stronger and more capable than I was…being able to give that to someone, that’s what really got me interested in teaching,” said Bosche.
The couple will celebrate their second wedding anniversary Jan. 18.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose