In July 2015, eight members of the Veteran Enforcers Motorcycle Association (VEMA) of New Bern roared up College Court on their motorcycles to deliver the first check for the Fallen Officer Memorial Scholarship fund. The funds were raised by their first annual Fallen Officer Memorial Ride in honor of slain New Bern Police officer Alexander Thalmann.
VEMA is a national organization whose mission is to recognize and honor military, law enforcement and first responders. According to VEMA New Bern’s chapter commander Kevin Yates, the chapter decided to create the scholarship because the BLET students are the future. “We want to recognize them going out to protect and serve,” said Yates.
The annual VEMA scholarships benefit students enrolled in Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program. VEMA has donated $6,050 over the past three years. “We hope to continue to grow it,” said Yates. The annual ride is typically held late March or early April.
The Fallen Officer Memorial Scholarship will pay for tuition, fees, books or required supplies. According to Jim Ward, Craven CC BLET program coordinator and instructor, many recruits may not be eligible for financial aid, are delayed in receiving financial aid, or need assistance in paying for medical screening, criminal background check and books.
When VEMA members presented this year’s check to the college’s Foundation, they told Craven CC administration that its recipient, Michael Anthony, had made a donation back to VEMA at the chapter’s annual motorcycle fundraising ride event. “I thought it would be a good way to say thank you,” said Anthony
Anthony said early on in the BLET program he was working and only getting a few hours of sleep each night. He said the financial assistance helped him reduce his work schedule so he could focus on BLET’s demanding academic and physical training.
Anthony is also the husband of Kelsey and father of son Carson and daughter Kaia. “Without her (wife) support, I could not have finished the program,” said Anthony.
Anthony passed the state exam in June. He is in process of being hired by a local law enforcement agency. His goal is to join a special response team. Anthony also plans on finishing a bachelor’s degree.
The Anthonys are originally from Detroit, Mi. They relocated to Havelock with the support of Anthony’s father-in-law. “I am looking forward to raising my kids here,” said Anthony.
Deborah Kania is the director of communications at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.