Marietta, Georgia, November 12, 2020 – Life University (LIFE) hosted a virtual Veterans Day Assembly with distinguished speakers from Dobbins Air Reserve Base (ARB), Lockheed Martin and the local Cobb County community on Wednesday, November 11, 2020.

Major Kenneth J. Thomas of the U.S. Air Force Reserve 94th Airlift Wing, Master Sergeant Ronald L Vehrs, Jr. from the 94th Maintenance Squadron, Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Boyce, himself a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and Lockheed Martin Deputy Vice President Karmyn Norwood were among the speakers during the event, which was livestreamed to the Life University community on the Zoom video platform.

As a proud member of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program for Veterans, Life University honors veterans for their service to the United States by making thousands of dollars in additional funds available for their undergraduate, graduate or Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs without further charges to their GI Bill Entitlement.

Founded in 1974, Life University is a health sciences institution most known for its Doctor of Chiropractic program, the largest single-campus chiropractic program in the world. Undergraduates can pursue 15 undergraduate degrees as well as a pre-chiropractic, degree-seeking pathway. Three graduate degrees are available, encompassing areas of sport health science, clinical nutrition and positive psychology. Some degree programs are offered to distance learners through LIFE’s College of Online Education.

During Chairman Boyce’s nearly 30 years in the Marine Corps, his leadership positions included command of a Marine Air Group, deputy command of a Marine Base with mayor-like responsibilities for more than 10,000 military and civilian personnel, and a business enterprise of more than 400 employees with revenues exceeding $50 million. Boyce’s military service included Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Boyce is a lifetime member of a number of national veterans’ groups including the American Legion, Marine Corps League and Disabled American Veterans.

“Veterans Day, for me, is very special. As I grow older, it becomes more special,” Chairman Boyce said. “You can’t serve 30 years in any branch of the military without losing people that you served with that you’d come to know and love. So, both on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I harken back to them, the people who brought laughter into my life, who challenged me and shared experiences with me, both in good times and in bad times.”

Maj. Thomas is a C-130 navigator who has also flown the T-6, T-1, T-38, T-43 and Electric Aircraft Concept (EAC) military aircraft. He has 13 years of active duty service and two years in the Air Force Reserves. He serves as the Diversity and Inclusion program manager at Dobbins ARB. Maj. Thomas is a certified flight instructor and runs a nonprofit organization called Legacy Flight Academy.

“I believe in servant leadership and in the military. We have similar principles to Life University’s Lasting Purpose that helped me become the leader I am today,” Maj. Thomas shared.  “An Air Force core value is service before self. Being a positive influence in your community is both important now and in the future, because those you influence will be the ones who take your place in the future.”

Life University strives to empower its students to succeed both professionally and personally. At LIFE, we innovate our approach to higher education, while also remaining true to our philosophical commitment to produce informed leaders who exemplify humanistic values in their professions. To achieve this goal, LIFE recognizes and demonstrates its dedication through three official Life University Values: Lasting Purpose, Vitalism and Integrity.

Sgt. Vehrs has served in the military for almost three decades, including four years as active-duty Air Force, almost 25 years in the Air Force Reserves and a short stint in the Air National Guard. He is currently an Air Reserve Technician at Dobbins ARB, where he has worked full time since January 2004.

“Servant leadership begins with the desire to help others grow and achieve,” Sgt. Vehrs said. “The biggest example I have of this is my dad, ‘Rocket’ Ron Vehrs. He was a high school teacher, a Track and Field and Cross Country coach and a member of the Washington State Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame.”

Sgt. Vehrs shared a story that exemplified how his dad cared for his athletes. “In 1971, he had two boys – the Sable brothers, Ron and Mike – who ran Cross Country for him. That year, they had tragedy – their father became ill with cancer and he tragically died. So, what did my father do? He got in his car and went over to their house, knocked on their door, sat in their living room and began to tell them about life, about some of the hard knocks that can happen and how it’s not always fair.”

In 2018, when Sgt. Vehrs’ father was inducted into the Hall of Fame,  many of his students were there to congratulate him, including the Sable brothers with their spouses. “They were all there to pay tribute to the coach who cared.”

Norwood has held positions of increasing responsibility within Lockheed Martin as well as in the technology industry and the U.S. federal government. Most recently, she was named the Deputy Vice President of the Sensors and Global Sustainment (S&GS) Line of Business and Vice President of Rotary Wing & Ground Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Company in Orlando, Florida.

“Veterans Day serves a very important purpose as the day we recognize all those who have worn the uniforms of service,” Norwood said. “Lockheed Martin is the home of scientists and engineers who innovate for the future fight while providing today’s necessary technology. Many of those scientists and engineers are veterans, comprising more than one-fifth of our employee population.”

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

During the assembly, the National Anthem was sung by vocalist Chantelle Monique Frazier.

Life University is located adjacent to Dobbins ARB and Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia, just northwest of Atlanta. LIFE’s 110-acre campus is home to more than 2,700 undergraduate, graduate and professional students who come from all 50 United States and more than 45 countries.

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