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Deadline nearing for veteran diplomas

Veterans of the armed services, who defended their country during World War II, the Korean conflict or Vietnam, and are looking to finally earn their high school diploma have until the end of the month to do just that.

Willis Chappell, Veterans Affairs Officer with the National Antlered Guard Dept., is the local representative for Operation Recognition, a program aimed at awarding a standard high school diploma to an honorably discharged veteran who had served in the armed forces during certain periods in the last century.

Chappell said veterans looking to apply for the diplomas should contact him before the end of the month, so that he can send their information on to the high school they are hoping to receive a diploma from the first week of February.

In his third year of leading the program in and around Selma, Chappell said this year has been the biggest already, even before the deadline for veterans to submit information to him arrives at the end of the month.

“I just got to 15 for this year, and I am hoping to get as many as I can,” Chappell said. “Over the last two years, I’ve only had about 12 veterans receive diplomas through the program.”

Chappell, himself a U.S. Army veteran, said he has received lots of financial assistance from members of the community looking to help pay for the diplomas.

“Cooper Brothers Construction has led the charge by donating $1,000,” Chappell said. “The Selma City Council donated $325 and one local veteran donated $325.”

Veterans must have been a resident of Alabama before they entered the service, and their service in the military must have prevented them from getting their high school diploma.

Chappell said the veterans are more than deserving of the diplomas the program helps them attain.

“The reason it’s important is because during World War II and Korea, a lot of veterans were drafted into the military with the equivalent of a 6th or 7th grade education,” Chappell said. “And they have had the opportunity to go back and get that diploma they had given up.”

Anyone looking to donate money to the program, can contact Chappell at 412-9291 or via mail at P.O. Box 1442 in Selma.