By David Madden

SEWELL, NJ (CBS) — Throughout the region, veterans are being honored for their service all this week before the official Veterans Day remembrance on Saturday.

One such ceremony was held Friday at Rowan College of Gloucester County.

There was the usual pomp and circumstance, the political speeches and awards. All traditional, but nonetheless necessary, not just to say thanks to those who stepped up, but for them to hear it.

John Ryder spoke at the event, recalling his Coast Guard days deployed to Saudi Arabia in the first Gulf War.

“To this day, certain smells and sights will take me right back to where I was in 1991,” he said. “After it was all said and done, I’m glad I volunteered.”

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John Ryder speaking at podium. (credit: David Madden)

There were pledges to veterans to continue to help them, particularly on the health care front. That’s not easy with fiscal challenges these days, but Congressman Donald Norcross said it’s a promise that needs to be kept.

“So when somebody in crisis is calling up for help, he doesn’t get a busy signal,” Norcross told the crowd. “When somebody walks in and tries to go through the front door that the door isn’t locked, and she’s turned away. We owe it not only to those who served before, but those who will serve that we owe them the best health care in the world.”

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Donald Norcross (credit: David Madden)

Students on campus gave an award to one of their own who served in the Navy during Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. The school also unveiled three additional preferred parking spaces for veterans in the center of campus.

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