Veterans Diploma Project fulfills dreams of military members who had education cut short

Since 2009, the Veterans Diploma Project in San Bernardino County awarded nearly 300 diplomas retroactively to eligible veterans.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Many veterans had their high school educations cut short by military service to our country. The "Veterans Diploma Project" in San Bernardino County recognizes the sacrifice made by many of those vets.

James Kiyabu, originally from Hawaii, never graduated high school before deploying for his service in the Army. It was always his dream to receive that diploma - and now he finally got it, posthumously.

"It's a bittersweet moment, because this something my dad really wanted and talked about for many years," said his son Randy Kiyabu. "We kind of felt it was a chapter that needed to be finished."

It's part of the San Bernardino County superintendent of schools' Veterans Diploma Project, in partnership with the county Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 2009, they've awarded nearly 300 diplomas retroactively to eligible veterans.

"For veterans who served the Korean War, Vietnam War or WWII, those individuals can receive a diploma because of their service to their country," said Ted Alejandre, San Bernardino County Superintendent.

But the group is dwindling - evident by the fact that Kiyabu was the only veteran honored at this year's ceremony.

"If he was here right now, he would be a little awestruck and he would be honored and he would be very flattered that everyone from the county and all these resources went into doing this for him," said Randy Kiyabu.

Those involved will tell you - it's the least they can do for someone who fought to protect our freedom.

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