Celebrating Community this Veterans Day

A guest post from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor in honor of Veterans Day

We walk by iconic spaces like Camp Randall, Memorial Union, and the Red Gym every day on campus, but few of us think about their connection to the university’s military heritage. Similarly, we often pass each other bustling to class, meetings or elsewhere without acknowledging there are entire human histories and experiences passing us by.

This Veterans Day, let us pause to see and to recognize the nearly 900 student veterans, active and reserve military students at UW–Madison today. They are veterans of war; some are moms or dads; they are individuals who will drop everything to help strangers in need when disaster strikes. In fact, we have 10 students currently away on military orders. Needless to say, they don’t take the typical path here.

Being a student with a military identity at UW–Madison is honorable. It can be a source of strength and camaraderie. But it can sometimes be lonely.

We know that feeling a sense of belonging is an important factor to academic success, and we see a need for this among our student veterans. This past year, we initiated some important changes in Student Affairs to strengthen our support for military-connected students at UW–Madison — especially around building community. Those opportunities are taking place within the newly minted University Veteran Services, which moved from the Division of Enrollment Management to Student Affairs to align with our identity and inclusion programming.

Student veterans and those with military connections now have an organizational home and community on campus akin to the Multicultural Student Center, Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, McBurney Disability Resource Center, and International Student Services. These programs offer safe and welcoming spaces with people who understand their needs and actively connect students with resources to succeed both within and outside the classroom.

Our Badger diversity occurs in many ways. The unique student veteran experience adds depth and perspective to our classrooms and to our larger campus identity. We enjoy the personal freedoms we exercise every day because they stood up to fight for them.

I encourage you this Veterans Week to pause your routine and to engage in one (or a few!) events to honor our veterans and to really hear their stories. University Veteran Services, the Wisconsin Union, and our Student Veterans of America have organized several activities aimed at building community and making meaningful connections.

Again, thank you to our military-connected students, staff, faculty, and alumni for your sacrifices to safeguard our freedoms. I admire your dedication. I appreciate your unique stories. And I am honored you are part of our UW–Madison community.