Relative of Local War Hero Works to Assist Military at WSSU

Cynthia Joel
November 8, 2011
   A relative of a well-known local war hero is doing her part to assist current military and veterans with advancing their lives at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).

    Cynthia Joel, niece of war hero Lawrence Joel, is WSSU’s new military support services manager in the office of non-traditional student services.  In her role, Joel assists military and veterans with the transition to college life which includes admissions processes, unofficial course credit evaluations, facilitating easy access to course withdrawals in case of military deployment, assistance with academic referrals/counseling, and connecting veterans with peers through student veterans organizations and peer mentoring groups on campus.

    Lawrence Joel, for whom the Lawrence Joel Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (LJVM) was named, was an American military veteran hero.  He served in the U.S. Army in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  While serving in Vietnam as a medic assigned to 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Joel earned the Silver Star and the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in a battle with the Viet Cong that occurred on November 8, 1965.  He was the first living African-American to receive such an honor since the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    Joel has fond memories of her uncle, whom she says was humble and always considerate of others.

  “I feel doing this kind of work is a way of honoring my uncle.  When he returned from Vietnam, I really got to know him closely.  I worked with him in making his transition from military to civilian life.  I watched him and other veteran family members deal with challenges and not getting the honor and credit due to them by the general public after military and war experiences.   I really enjoy making a difference for them,” Joel said.

    Joel carries that special commitment as she assists in expanding efforts to support the military, veterans and their children such as working to create new policies that can make campus a more attractive place for enrollment, matriculation and graduation.

    “One way I personally enjoy helping is by creating a family environment for military and veterans here at WSSU,” added Joel.

    By helping veterans through their attendance at WSSU, Joel feels a connection to the uncle she admired.

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