11.11.11: U-M to mark Veterans Day and heroes among us
Veterans Day 2011 will take place on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year. This unique numerical alignment signals a special moment in the holiday's 92-year existence, and the university's fourth annual observance will reflect the occasion.
The Ann Arbor campus alone is home to nearly 1,000 military veterans. On Friday these students, faculty and staff, along with their 250 compatriots at UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn, will be honored and celebrated for their service and sacrifice.
Recognition reaches far beyond a single day. Veteran resource centers now are part of the fabric of all three campuses.
Assisting veterans, "is quite simply the right thing to do," says Ruth J. Person, chancellor of UM-Flint, which is broadly recognized by numerous veterans' organizations as one of the most veteran-friendly campuses in the U.S.
Recently designated by the Pat Tillman Foundation as one of only 12 University Partners in the U.S. — and the only one in Michigan — UM-Flint boasts a vigorous group of resources. These include specialized academic advising, counseling, and the Student Veterans Resource Center, collaborative community-based initiatives, and more.
The annual UM-Flint Veterans Day Observance will get under way at 9:45 a.m. Friday at the UM-Flint Theatre.
UM-Ann Arbor, also a Tillman Scholar campus that is recognized as a veteran-friendly university by national veterans' organizations, established the Student Veterans Assistance Program (SVAP), vets.umich.edu, to assist veterans, guardsmen, reservists and others receiving U.S. military benefits to make a successful transition into the U-M community. Located within the Office of New Student Programs, the SVAP helps students make the transition from active military duty to U-M, or from the campus to active military duty.
The Ann Arbor campus also is home to the earliest stirrings of the national Student Veterans of America, which was co-founded by U-M alumnus and Air Force veteran Derek Blumke.
"My experience at U-M has been good so far, and being a member of the SVA has helped," says former Marine Brendan LeJune. "It was a little rough at first to be so much older than the majority of students and to have life experiences that are so far from theirs. SVA allowed me to meet students that have similar experiences, and who know what it is like to be a nontraditional student."
The growing UM-Dearborn student veterans community enjoys the support of a coordinated array of services, from academic guidance and support, counseling, student organization, and campus and community collaborations in service to active-duty, reserve, and retired military and their spouses and dependents.
The Ann Arbor campus is marking Veterans Day with a two-week series of academic, social, athletic and ceremonial events that pay tribute to veterans and active duty members, and honor the fallen.
Women in the military will kick off the events with "A Few Good Women: Michigan Women in the Military During WWII" an exhibit on loan from the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. The documentary film "Lioness" tells the story of female soldiers sent to direct-ground combat for the first time in American history. They served in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles in the Iraq war, without the same training given to their male counterparts.
Panel discussions by student and nonstudent veterans will analyze service members' experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan to World War II, Vietnam and Korea. Additional panel topics include post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
From 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday on the Diag and on the first floor of the Michigan Union, the names of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan will be projected. The university community is invited to gather at either of these sites to pause, reflect and honor those who have died in service to the United States.
The celebration will cap off on the field of friendly "battle" at the annual Army-Navy Wheelchair Basketball game, preceded by a motorcade featuring Grand Marshall and U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. Salutes also are planned when Michigan faces Ferris State on the hardwood and Nebraska on the gridiron, Friday and Nov. 19, respectively.