Besides the fact that Veterans Day means a three day weekend from classes it might seem like a holiday that would be overlooked at Western. However, this is not the case. Western does have a veteran population on campus as well as an office dedicated to their assistance—the Veteran's Outreach Center.
Robert Marshall, the center coordinator and a current Staff Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves, planned Western's celebration of the holiday entitled “Lest We Forget” will be held at noon, Nov. 8 in the Multipurpose Room.
Veterans Day, November 11, marks the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month when an armistice stopped the fighting of WWI in 1919. The day was started to honor the veterans of the First World War, and was made a national holiday in 1938. It was changed again in 1954 to broaden its purpose to recognize veterans of all wars. Today Veterans Day holds an extra significance as many young people are currently serving in Iraq and overseas.
“Veterans Day is important because it's a day to honor veterans, past and present. said Marshall. “We owe them a debt of gratitude.”
“It's in recognition of a lot of work people are doing now and all over the world,” said Ramiro Espinoza, AS President and former Marine Corps sergeant.
The local American Legion Post will be opening up the celebration by presenting the color guard. Western students will be providing the music, which consists of a brass ensemble and the national anthem sung by Deana Davis, Marshall said.
The main event will be the three speakers, which are from the greater community as well as from Western. David Brunnemer, director of disAbility resources and former Air Force officer will be speaking as well as Ben Nelson, a Western student and a corporal in the Marine Corps Reserves, and Dr. Mike Colson, a retired Navy Commander, Marshall said. There will be a social after the reception, where attendees can talk and eat the provided food.
The speeches will steer clear of politics, Marshall said. Brunnermer speech will focus not only on the contributions of active military, but their continuing service after their military duty ends. Marshall said he encouraged the speakers to include personal experiences.
There are two-hundred veterans currently receiving money for their service, Espinoza said, and even more enrolled. With the war overseas there will eventually be a large influx of student veterans, Espinoza said.
Marshall said that student veterans can face difficulties with college life. This may include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or feelings of alienation from their peers, and more commonly stress due to the long process of waiting for G.I. Bill money. Also veterans can be re-activated, or called back to active duty, which can leave them with many adjustments to make, especially for those with families.
Located in Viking Union 530, the VOC is here to serve veterans, Marshall said. The center helps students veterans understand and access the money they are entitled to, helps them find counselors if needed and connect them to veterans' groups out in the community.
Espinoza said that Western can be a large cultural shift from the armed services.
“For example, I moved from the Marine Corp to the Fairhaven Dorms,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza also emphasized that there are large differences in veteran's experiences, while in service, as well as at Western. There are a huge range of jobs and duties that a veteran could have had, and while some students find the adjustments to student life more jarring, others do not, Espinoza said.
The VOC will also provide military speakers for club events and they are also a resource to those who want to find out more about the military, military training, or what the military is currently doing.