UW Tacoma is throwing its fourth annual Veteran’s Appreciation week here on campus, which began November 3rd and ends the 12th. The UW community (including Seattle and Bothell) will host 10 total events. UW Tacoma organized four of the 10 events.
Approximately 400-450 students (10%) are currently active students who receive benefits from the military such as the G.I. Bill.
Associate of Student Support Programs Victor Flores says, “Our goal as an organization is to ensure that we are welcoming, maintaining a campus that is inclusive to veterans.”
Veteran students may struggle with physical and emotional problems (disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) that many students may not. Many veterans are non-traditional students going back to college after years on duty, a big adjustment.
Flores says his goal for veterans’ week is: “Recognizing and honoring all veterans that have sacrificed for our country, but also to educate our faculty, students and staff on how to work with our students in the best way possible.”
Flores believes that UWT is doing a lot in regards to veteran involvement on campus. The Student Veteran Organization is a student-led organization that focuses on building relationships and camaraderie among veterans and their families, and expanding resources for veterans on campus.
Although Flores says he likes what he sees with the veteran association, he is a firm believer that there can always be more done to increase awareness. “I’d like to see us [UWT] place more of an emphasis on developing programs and services with our career service centers to ensure that we are preparing our veterans for exiting the institution.”
According to a survey conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE), 62% of veterans and military service members are first generation students compared to 43% of non-military students across the nation. In a separate article written by the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) between 2009 and 2010 there was a 42% increase in the amount of veterans and military service members who received educational benefits.
The purpose of the Veteran’s Appreciation Week, according to Flores is to build on the organizations UWT currently has and then expand the opportunities for veterans for the future.
On November 3rd, there was a Veteran’s Appreciation Tribute, which was held at William W. Phillip Hall. Before the event, there was a bus located in-front of WPH that veterans could go to and receive professional guidance or counseling.
The keynote speaker for the event was Thomas Kuljam, the new director of Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship (VIBE). He is a 21-year Air Force veteran.
The second event was held on Nov. 4th, the Veteran Alumni, Student, Staff and Faculty Reception held in the Lucien Board Room in GWP. Veterans came together and networked among themselves while reconnecting with each other.
On the 5th there was a VIBE open house in the Tioga Library in room 307(a) at 12:30 pm. Kuljam spoke regarding the program and local VIBE opportunities in Tacoma.
On Veteran’s Day (the 11th) there will be a ceremony at the Medal of Honor Memorial (UW Seattle campus) at 11 am., featuring UWT and UWB Chancellors Mark Pagano and Wolf Yeigh. The UW marching band will present the colors, and Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer will receive the 2015 UW Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award.
On November 12th, The Swiss, located on Jefferson Ave across the street from the Tioga library building, will host their 10th Annual Veterans Social from 4-6 pm. It is an informal event in which all ages are welcome.