Blue Hen Veterans and ROTC worked together to fill The Green on the north side of Memorial Hall with American flags.

Veterans honored

University holds special reception to honor veterans, service members


3 p.m., Nov. 11, 2014--The University of Delaware held its first recognition reception to honor veterans and military service members on campus on Monday evening, Nov. 10, at the President’s House.

The event, held on the eve of Veterans Day, was organized by the Campus Veterans Working Group and attended by about 70 people.

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Invited were student veterans and active duty and reserve service members, as well as faculty and staff veterans and service members.

UD President Patrick Harker welcomed the veterans and thanked them for their service.

“Whatever branch you’re with — whether you’re active or retired or in the reserves, whether you’re a student, a faculty member or a staff member — all of you are an important part of this University,” he said.

Harker noted the University’s long history with military service, from the post-Civil War Morrill Act, which required military training as part of the curriculum, to World War II, when 63 percent of UD students were veterans through the G.I. Bill.

He also cited the First Year Common Reader, David Finkel’s Thank You For Your Service, which followed members of an Army battalion as they adjusted to life after combat in Iraq. Finkel addressed students during a campus presentation in September.

“It’s good for students to read a book and hear from the author — but it’s even more powerful when they hear from the veteran sitting next to them in class,” Harker said, encouraging veterans and service members to share their experiences with fellow students.

José-Luis Riera, dean of students, discussed the challenges faced by veterans and service members and cited the Campus Veterans Working Group, which organized the event.

The Campus Veterans Working Group includes employees and students across the University and is convened through the Office of the Dean of Students. It is co-chaired by Riera and Lauren Schipper, disability specialist in the Office of Disability Support Services.

Riera said the working group seeks to improve the student veteran and service member experience by pursuing systemic University-wide changes that will benefit the student veteran by streamlining services, by recognizing and appreciating all veterans and service members who are part of the campus community, and by supporting individual student veteran success.

He said it is hoped the recognition reception will become an annual event.

Darrell Wisseman, a Marine Corps veteran and philosophy and public policy major from Milford, Delaware, who is president of the Blue Hen Veterans student organization, discussed the group’s mission and the importance of incorporating veterans into the campus experience.

“There is an enormous potential for student veterans to add value to the campus community with our leadership and real world experience. But that being said, the veteran transition to civilian and academic life can be a disorienting, frustrating and isolating experience without access to the right mentors and resources,” he said. “Most student veterans juggle family and work responsibilities off campus while trying to discover academic resources on their own, only happening upon other student veterans by chance.”

He said there has been a “tremendous shift” in institutional support and attention directed toward improving the student veteran experience at UD, citing the welcome Blue Hen Veterans has received and praising formation of the Campus Veterans Working Group.

"This dinner recognition is a small but important gesture in saying ‘thank you’ to individuals who give of themselves, and for some, pay the ultimate price to ensure our civil liberties,” said Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity. “It is a sacrifice one should not take lightly or for granted. The feeling I received from those in attendance was one of gratitude and appreciation for this acknowledgment from our institution."

Veterans Day observance

The Blue Hen Veterans joined hands with campus ROTC to present a Veterans Day observance on Tuesday morning, Nov. 11, on The Green.

A presentation of the color guard and a moment of silence was observed at 10:45 a.m. near Memorial Hall, named to honor the 270 Delawareans who lost their lives in World War I. In the building’s lobby is an historic book that bears the names of those who died.

Blue Hen Veterans also placed 684 U.S. flags on The Green north of Memorial Hall in remembrance of the 6,838 service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

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