To say Mayor Robert “Bobby” Dyer, a Marine Corps veteran, operates with a servant’s heart is an understatement. With Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday (244 years) next week, along with Dyer’s military service, Virginia Beach leadership (particularly in the wake of the city’s mass shooting tragedy) and his connection to Regent, it was fitting he gave the keynote speech at this year’s Veterans Prayer Breakfast.
Dr. Bob Habib, retired Army and Regent’s senior director of Military and Veterans Affairs welcomed veterans and active-duty members enrolled at Regent. “The annual Veterans Prayer Breakfast is a time for reflection and intentional celebration of the Regent and local veteran population,” said Habib.
“Ten years ago, there were only 3,000 organizations helping veterans — now there are 48,000. Even so, it’s still difficult for veterans to get the support they need sometimes, whether it’s educational, professional, social or spiritual. So, we seek out to partner with these organizations. From my standpoint, the single most important institution among them is this institution — a community of like-minded folks who have served and who will serve,” explains Habib.
Michael Grass, U.S. Navy veteran, gave the invocation followed by the parade of colors by Naval Preparatory Program ROTC Color Guard. The Regent University Singers performed the national anthem and led attendees in praise and worship. Winfield Thome, retired Navy; Brittany Kenworthy, U.S. Navy veteran; Melissa Dayton, U.S. Airforce veteran; and Greg Smith, retired Army, read Scriptures offering words of wisdom and keys to leadership.
Habib introduced the mayor: “Some of you may know him as “Bobby D” informally but the mayor of the greatest city on this planet is a part of the Regent family. He epitomizes what public service and servant leadership looks like. After serving in the Marine Corps, he eventually earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent; later serving as a principal lecturer for the Robertson School of Government. He also represented the Centerville District of Virginia Beach for 14 years, before being sworn in last year as the city’s first veteran to be directly elected for mayor.”
When the mayor approached the lectern, he opened by thanking the Regent University Singers: “I have never heard a more beautiful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.” He also thanked the singers for their choral contribution at the community memorial service, for the 12 Virginia Beach mass shooting victims, that was held this past summer at Rock Church: “You helped bring a healing spirit to the city.”
Dyer said, “I’m proud to be part of this great community of military — everyone that serves —and let’s not forget the families of those who serve, who also sacrifice. … I always say when you run for office, you’re supposed to be a politician; once elected a public servant, but in our case, a servant leader.”
Dyer credits Regent for its strong leadership values: “I had the privilege of teaching in the School of Government here for 12 years and I can tell you that my Regent foundation and my faith foundation helped me stay grounded to become a servant leader.”
The Military Resource Center provides services and support for veterans and active duty service members — and their families — within the Regent community. They assist individuals transitioning into student life, specifically in areas of both academic and spiritual growth. For more information about the center, visit regent.edu/military.