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Operation Recognition: High School Diploma Program for Veterans

Korean War Vet Receives High School Diploma

June 20, 2010

Seventy-eight-year-old Korean War veteran John DeSimone received his diploma from Monticello High School on June 8, thanks to the Operation Recognition program.

Initiated in 2005, Operation Recognition entitles veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to a high school MHS peoplediploma from any New York State public school. Monticello School officials created an easy procedure for veterans who would like to get a diploma from Monticello High School. Earlier this year, local businessman and Vietnam veteran, Eugene Dalpiaz, realized his dream and utilized the program to become the first person to get a diploma from Monticello through Operation Recognition.

When Mr. DeSimone’s daughter, Andrea Oldfield, read the story about Mr. Dalpiaz on the Monticello School District website, she called her dad immediately.

“I knew he always wanted to get his diploma,” said Ms. Oldfield, who graduated from Monticello High School in 1982. “It is important to him to set a good example for his grandkids and great grandkids.”

And that he did. His granddaughter, Kate Oldfield, who is graduating this year with honors from Monticello High School, was present when her granddad received his diploma. As the small ceremony ended, she walked out into the hallway of the high school, saw one of her friends and yelled, “My grandpa just got his diploma – how cool is that!”DeSimone family

If you’re a veteran or you know someone who may be interested in the Operation Recognition program in the Monticello School District, please contact the Pupil Personnel Services department at 845-794-0128.

For information and help obtaining the necessary military documentation for Operation Recognition, contact the Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency at 845-807-0233.

The New York State Department of Labor partners with the Sullivan Works One Stop Center and is located at 50 North Street in Monticello. Veterans outreach representative, Frank McGreevy is available at that location for consultation or can be reached at 845-794-3340, ext. 0598.

Photos: Monticello Schools Board of Education President Alyce Van Etten congratulates veteran John DeSimone upon receiving his high school diploma from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Michel. Also pictured from left, are PPS Director Dr. Edward Escobar and Monticello High School Principal Arleene Siegel.

With his new diploma in hand, John DeSimone shares the moment with family members, from left, Andrea Oldfield, Kate Oldfield, Daniel Oldfield, Jackie DeSimone and Lori Nixon.

Vietnam Veteran Receives Diploma from Monticello Schools through Project Recognition

December 23, 2009

On December 23, Eugene Edward Dalpiaz’s lifelong dream came to fruition as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Michel, on behalf of the Monticello Central School District, presented him with his high school diploma.Vietnam vet gets his high school diploma

“This is glorious indeed,” said Mr. Dalpiaz. “I realize in this day and age that a high school diploma is one of the most important documents you can get in life – without it, there’s no future – not if you want to buy nice things and live comfortably.”

Mr. Dalpiaz, who is a Vietnam veteran, qualified for the diploma through a program called Operation Recognition. Initiated in 2005, the program entitles veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to a high school diploma from any New York State public school.

When Mr. Dalpiaz, who has lived in the Sackett Lake section of Monticello for the past decade and owns a local wood flooring business, was severely affected by the economic downturn, he decided to begin a new career with the Department of Homeland Security. When he applied for employment, they told him he needed a high school diploma. He sought help from the Sullivan County branch of the New York State Department of Labor and was directed to its veterans outreach representative, Frank Vietnam vet gets his high school diplomaMcGreevy, who explained the Operation Recognition program. Next, Mr. Dalpiaz contacted Monticello High School’s guidance department and explained his situation to Julie Yewchuk who began making inquiries.

Since Monticello Schools had never awarded a diploma through Operation Recognition, a protocol needed to be created. The district’s Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Kenneth W. Newman, Sr. knew of the program from his previous experience with the Albany City School District. He took the reins, and along with Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Director Dr. Edward Escobar, they implemented a system for Mr. Dalpiaz and other veterans to get their diplomas. Mr. Dalpiaz then contacted Sullivan County’s Veterans Service Agency Director John Bridges, who helped him get the necessary documentation to complete the process.

“I wish I had known about this program sooner,” said Mr. Dalpiaz, who is now thinking about attending college. “I’m the only one in my family who never graduated from high school and I know they are going to be very proud of me for this accomplishment.”

Mr. Dalpiaz is the second oldest of nine siblings. Brought up in poverty in the East New York section of Brooklyn, he worked since he was 14 years-old to help his mother pay the bills. His sacrifice helped his brothers and sisters pursue their dreams. In 1968, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. While there, his job was to sweep for landmines and help build bridges and roads.Eugene Dalpiaz in Vietnam Although he didn’t serve on the frontlines, he was exposed to a number of combat situations - including one in which his battalion came under enemy fire for about 47 days straight. After returning home from the war, he met the love of his life, Arlene, to whom he has been married for 33 years. They have two children and two grandchildren and he’s looking forward to showing them his new diploma.

“It is very important that we do our part to support those who have served our country and who have risked all they have to guarantee our freedom,” said Dr. Michel during the small ceremony in which he presented Mr. Dalpiaz with his diploma. “Thank you.”

Photos: From left, MCSD Assistant Superintendent Kenneth W. Newman, Sr., Sullivan County Veterans Director John Bridges, Vietnam veteran Eugene Dalpiaz, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Michel, Monticello High School Principal Arleene Siegel, MHS guidance secretary Julie Yewchuk and PPS Director Dr. Edward Escobar during a small ceremony in which Mr. Dalpiaz was presented with his high school diploma. Graduates through Operation Recognition also have the option of participating in Monticello High School’s regular commencement ceremony in June.

Eugene Dalpiaz receives his high school diploma from Monticello Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel.

Eugene Dalpiaz with an unknown Vietnamese child in 1969 while stationed in Dak To, Vietnam.

CLICK HERE for this story as carried by the Times Herald-Record.

More Information about Operation Recognition

Operation Recognition requirements for a high school diploma are as follows:

Candidates must submit evidence of service during World War II (December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946), the Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955) or the Vietnam War (Southeast Asian Hostilities) (May 1, 1961 through April 30, 1975). Such documentation may include discharge papers or other such documents or a letter from a recognized veterans’ agency affirming such service.

1. Candidates do not need to show evidence of attendance at a school in New York State. They need only affirm in writing that they do not possess a high school diploma.

2. Candidates possessing a High School Equivalency (or GED) diploma are eligible for the program.

3. Diplomas may be awarded to next of kin, if eligibility is established.

Veterans Service Agency

For information and help obtaining the necessary military documentation for Operation Recognition, contact the Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency at 845-807-0233.

Monticello Schools

For more information about the Operation Recognition program in the Monticello School District, contact the Pupil Personnel Services department at 845-794-0128.

NY State Department of Labor

The New York State Department of Labor partners with the Sullivan Works One Stop Center and is located at 50 North Street in Monticello. Veterans outreach representative, Frank McGreevy is available at that location for consultation or can be reached at 845-794-3340, ext. 0598.