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Vet Center residents hear Marine’s approach to Veterans Day

Even though the speaker at the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center’s early Veterans Day ceremony doesn’t consider himself a veteran yet, he delved into all aspects of what the day is about, from the definition of “veteran” to the various service battle cries to the kinds of pride a veteran may feel.

U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Bill W. Denney, operations chief for Fort Sill’s Marine Artillery Detachment, began with his childhood. He grew up in a military family. His father was in the Air Force. His sister enlisted in the Army. His brother enlisted in the Army National Guard and later transitioned to the Air Force.

“So I was no stranger to the military and what it meant to me. And just like all of you, one day I made the decision to enlist, and it was due to something missing in my life. After a divorce and really no direction in life, I turned to what I hoped would be my new family,” Denney said.

In March 2001 he enlisted in the Marine Corps and headed to San Diego. Different billets over the years shaped him into the Marine he is today.

“This brings me to the big question of the day: What is a veteran? Webster’s Dictionary defines a veteran as ‘a former member of the armed forces’ and ‘an old soldier of long service.’ I don’t know about you, but I prefer the first one,” he said.

“American War Library states, ‘a military veteran is any person who served any length of time in any military branch of service.’ And then finally, Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations states, ‘veteran is a person who served in the military, naval or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.’

“So whether 4 years or 40, medical or otherwise, give yourselves a round of applause,” Denney told center residents.

In a bit of audience participation, he asked residents to give a shout when he called out their service organization.

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