MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5481 honored Montville Township High School senior Hayley Zwickel with a scholarship at the high school’s awards ceremony on June 7.
Zwickel will be attending Norwich University, a private military school in Vermont, where she will become a member of the Corps of Cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), she told TAPinto Montville.
“Due to my ROTC scholarship, when I graduate from Norwich, I will commission into the Air Force as a 2nd lieutenant,” she said. “While at Norwich, I plan to major in psychology so I can pursue a career in the Behavioral Sciences Division of the Air Force. I intend to work towards a PhD in psychology in my free time, and eventually transition into a career in the mental health sector of military medicine to treat both veterans and active military personnel who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
VFW member Tom Mazzaccaro said that Zwickel received a standing ovation when VFW members presented her with her scholarship and certificate.
“She was a star of the evening and I’m sure she will be a star in the future,” he said at the June VFW meeting, where Zwickel met more members.
Zwickel said she was motivated to join the military because her uncle served in the Army in the Vietnam war.
“He suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and as I’ve learned about him, that motivated me to want to help veterans who suffer from PTSD,” she explained. “About three or four years ago, I realized that my desire to help others wouldn’t be effective if I hadn’t served, myself, because I wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Then as time has passed and I’ve worked more towards that, it’s become much more personal to me, so I want to serve because of the reasons others want to serve.”
Post Commander Andrew Vyniski gave Zwickel a dollar bill and said, “When you get your commission, the first person who salutes you, give him or her this dollar,” a long-standing tradition in the military. Zwickel said she spoke with a man in an Air Force cap in the airport in Mexico who gave her a dollar and said the same thing, and her mom started to cry.
Zwickel heads to Vermont on Aug. 19 for the “Rook,” or new student, reception.
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