Veterans Reunion Event, 2019

Veterans Reunion Event, 2019

Following his nine-year career in the U.S. Army, Max Palumbo, MBA’18 turned to Boston College Veterans Alumni Network (BCVAN) for support. “Coming off active duty and going directly into the MBA program at the Carroll School of Management, I underestimated my transition into civilian life,” he says. “I quickly found that I really needed to rely on my veteran peers. In BCVAN, I found a network to lean on.”

Re-entry for veterans means “moving from one complete culture to another,” explains W. Christopher Bade ’80, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. “In the military, you are on this team and it’s a family unit. It’s a great part of the military experience. But when you get out, it’s suddenly gone, and it takes some getting used to. That’s why BCVAN is appealing to BC veterans. We have a common background, and we share a common experience.”

As co-chairs of BCVAN from 2012 to this spring, retired colonels and BC alumni Dan Arkins ’81 and George Harrington ’80 helped build veteran connections throughout the University community—and spearheaded numerous initiatives that strengthened bonds with the nearly 3,000 BC veterans from coast to coast.

In the military, you are on this team and it’s a family unit. It’s a great part of the military experience. But when you get out, it’s suddenly gone, and it takes some getting used to.
W. Christopher Bade '80, BCVAN Executive Committee

Additionally, working with Executive Vice President and U.S. Army veteran Michael Lochhead ’93, MBA’99, Arkins and Harrington helped design the charter that established a Boston College Veterans Advisory Group. “It was an honor to work with Dan and George,” says Lochhead. “Their dedication to the BC veteran community will have lasting impact and leave a legacy for others to follow. I am extremely grateful for their leadership and service, both to our country, and to the Boston College community, which they have strengthened and nourished through their commitment, passion, and energy.” This year, Arkins and Harrington handed over the command to Michael Dunford ’82 and Bill Kelley, MBA’18, who both served with the U.S. Marines. 

“BCVAN is a wonderful community for students and alumni, from networking to ongoing support,” Palumbo concludes. “I can’t speak highly enough about it.”



Over the summer, Dan Arkins ’81 and George Harrington ’80 took the time to reflect on the evolution of BCVAN and why they made a great leadership team. Editor’s note: The full-length version of this Q&A previously appeared in Boston College Magazine, Fall 2020.

What led you to join the armed services? 

GH: My family has a history of service. Both of my grandfathers served, my father served. It was something I had thought about for a long time.

DA: It was a pretty selfish reason initially. I enlisted in the Army National Guard to get a student loan repayment bonus and a security clearance. I wanted to join the U.S. Foreign Service and thought the military background would help. While I never made it to the Foreign Service, my six-year enlistment turned into a 33-year military career. 

Would you recommend the armed forces to BC students?

GH: I would. There is an emotional value in understanding your role in the greater society and helping the greater good. Some get that by following the Jesuit value of being men and women for others, or by joining the military or the Peace Corps. Working for something greater than yourself provides you with a great deal of perspective. 

DA: Yes, but it’s not for everybody. I saw the world; I learned what selfless service really meant. I sincerely believe that some type of national service is good for the soul. The Army helped me be a better person and a better leader. 

What was it like to lead the group together? 

GH: Dan and I complement each other well. He played the face of BCVAN while I developed projects, events, and connections. It’s easy to work with Dan. Humor is his go-to. It allowed our message to reach our audience. 

DA: George requires an extraordinary amount of adult supervision, so I felt a duty to help out. George is much more detail-oriented than I am. I provided comic relief when George was being serious. I think George would readily admit he was most often my straight man. The Abbott to my Costello. Martin to my Lewis. 

What are you most proud of accomplishing during your tenure as co-chair of BCVAN? 

GH: We took a very good organization and made it better. Paul Delaney ’66 did a tremendous job of laying the foundation, building BC’s Mass and Remembrance Ceremony. We added the BC Veterans’ Reunion program and expanded the University’s participation in the Wreaths Across America events. Today, BCVAN is recognized as one of the strongest and most cohesive alumni groups at BC. The best part of BCVAN has always been about helping people—whether through mentoring, networking, or remembering. 

DA: Our ability to build bridges with the founding members of the BC Student Veterans group, the BC employee resource group, Army ROTC, and the University administration was our greatest accomplishment. George and I were incredibly fortunate to have a great executive sponsor with Michael Lochhead. 

Why should BC veterans join BCVAN?

DA: Community, camaraderie, and fellowship. It is a great way to stay connected. Veterans love being around other veterans, and BCVAN is no exception. This group of 3,000 represents veterans from World War II to the present. That is an amazing network to leverage for the good of our members and the University. 

GH: BCVAN is greater than either of us. I am tremendously grateful and thankful for having had the opportunity. If we can sit here and say we’ve helped people, that’s what it’s all about.

Sound off! Let us know you’re a veteran, and sign up to join BCVAN today.