USC President Steven B. Sample and Edward P. Roski Jr., ’62 chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, saluted the more than 700 USC students, faculty and staff members associated with the U.S. armed forces at a gala dinner on March 3 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
Roski, a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his valiant service in Vietnam. He presided over the dinner, which included honored guests Major General Richard Mills and retired Rear Admiral Ray Smith, and USC University Professor Kevin Starr.
USC currently enrolls 122 ROTC students and 208 veteran students. The university also has 394 military veterans and reserves on faculty and staff.
“USC has a long and proud history of support for students and veterans representing the armed forces of the United States,” said Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias. “In addition, USC faculty members are active in many partnerships that advance research and training innovations that support the U.S. military.”
USC launched a special master’s degree program in social work with a specialization in military and veteran services during this academic year.
Based in the USC School of Social Work, the program prepares students to provide a full range of human services to the nation’s armed forces personnel, military veterans and their families. The program provides a new way to help individuals and families manage the stresses of active duty and combat service.
In addition, the USC Institute for Creative Technologies has advanced research and training in several initiatives undertaken with support from the U.S. Army and other research grants. For example, the institute pioneered virtual reality therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
Other current Institute for Creative Technologies applications being used to train troops include video games to prepare soldiers on how to recognize and react to improvised explosive devices or help them realize the consequences of their actions as they try to earn local trust in an unstable foreign city.
The USC ROTC event also honored California historian Starr, whose books include Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950.
Honored guests Mills and Smith were seated at the head table.
Mills currently serves as the commanding general, 1st Marine Division. From October 2007 to January 2009, he served concurrently as assistant division commander, 1st Marine Division, and commander, ground combat element, multinational forces – West in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. Upon returning from Iraq, Mills continued service as the assistant division commander until July 2009, when he again assumed command of the 1st Marine Division.
Smith is widely regarded as one of the Navy’s most inspirational leaders and speaks extensively on his leadership experiences to a wide range of audiences that include corporate, political, military and civic leaders. A Navy SEAL for 31 years, Smith achieved extraordinary success through participatory leadership.
During his four-year tenure as commander of the 2,300-men SEAL force, Smith raised personnel retention to a level three times the Navy average. As a Navy Captain, he led the SEALs in Operation Desert Storm.