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Ceremony honors student veterans; new organization gives support

November 14th, 2007

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The Air Force ROTC Color Guard participated in the ceremony.

University of Louisville students who served in the U.S. armed forces were recognized with a campus ceremony on Veterans Day. About 60 people attended the event outside the Red Barn, which included a performance by the Phi Mu Alpha Singers, a presentation by the Air Force ROTC Color Guard and talks by State Rep. Perry Clark (37th District) and UofL Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Jackson.

“We are here to honor all of you — all who have served,” said Jackson, himself a Coast Guard and Army veteran.

“You have given us a great unpayable debt,” Clark said.

The exact number of veterans attending UofL is not known, but about 600 students receive educational benefits as military veterans, said Rod McGuire, a mechanical engineering major and former Army staff sergeant who has a work study job in the Registrar’s Office. McGuire helped to organize Monday’s ceremony, which was sponsored in part by the Office of the Provost and the Hart Exhibit Council.

Student Government Association member Andrew Murphy first proposed the ceremony.

“Coming from a family of veterans, I was brought up with a notion to honor those who protect our freedoms,” Murphy said at the ceremony. “As a university, it seems important to recognize a large group of veterans at UofL. Since I’ve been on campus, it seems like they (veterans) are sort of the forgotten population.”

Veterans typically are not traditional college students, said McGuire, who has started a new student organization for them.

Last semester, McGuire began planning the Military Veteran’s Association after his boss in the Registrar’s Office mentioned that UofL veterans could use a group they could call their own. Its purpose is to provide “community, service and support” to its members, he said.

“A majority of student veterans are now combat veterans,” he said. “We are not 18 to 22; we do not see things the same way as a regular student. We are adults who have seen the world and have seen the reality of the world. Most are commuters with families and life challenges that a traditional student does not face. These are the things we as an organization want to help one another with.”

The organization, McGuire said, is open to any military veteran, veterans’ spouses and dependents, whether students, staff, faculty or alumni. Active duty, National Guard and Reserve members also are welcome.

About 50 people attended the first meeting in October, and members are voting on its newly written constitution.

“I feel our growth is only going to expand,” McGuire said.

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