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Veterans receive high school diplomas years after service


Kingston, NY – They served in Vietnam, Korea, and even World War II, and on Monday, proud veterans stood in Kingston, New York, and received a piece of paper many thought they might never receive. WAMC's Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Greg Fry reports...

Allen Cucksey served 27 years in the military, including time in Vietnam. He's originally from Brooklyn, but now resides in the Hudson Valley. On Monday morning, Cucksey became a high school graduate.

He received the diploma as part of a program known as Operation Recognition, run through the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs. The program awards diplomas to members of the Armed Forces, who served in World War II, Vietnam, or Korea, who received a satisfactory discharge, and who reside in New York State.

William Russell graduated high school in the mid 1970's, and three days later, he entered the military. Russell served 32 years in the military, and was on hand Monday as his friend, Allen Cucksey, received his diploma.

Cucksey says going back to school at his current age, 62, would've made him feel out of place. This program, however, helps him accomplish something he wanted to do more than 40 years ago.

Operation Recognition allows veterans to bring their honorable discharge papers to any school in New York that issues general or local diplomas. Kingston High School Principal Marie Anderson was one of two local principals to announce the newest high school graduates Monday. She says many of those who joined the military knew one thing - they needed to serve their country.

Monday was the first annual formal graduation program sponsored by the Ulster Works One Stop Center, as part of Operation Recognition. Nancy Schaef directs the Ulster County Office of Employment and Training, which gives priority service to veterans and their eligible spouses. She says they hope to put together the graduation event each year.

Operation Recognition