Honoring our veterans

A guest post from Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf in honor of Veterans Day.  

Past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces have shaped the heritage of this university, and embody the Wisconsin Idea by influencing the lives of others across the state, nation, and world.

This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The following year, a committee was launched on campus to plan for a student union building on campus, which would bear the name Memorial Union in honor of war veterans. On Armistice Day (as Veterans Day was known then) in 1925, ground was broken for construction of Memorial Union.

There are currently more than 500 student veterans on our campus; active duty service members, reservists, or members of the National Guard. Their presence is an asset to every school, college and department, as they share their unique skills and life experiences. You may, knowingly or not, interact with someone every day whose identity has been influenced by military service.

As a community, we must work to foster the success of all our students. In support of this effort, the Veteran Services & Military Assistance Center (VSMAC) was established in 2014.

Recently, VSMAC staff collaborated with the Offices of the Bursar, Student Financial Aid, and University Housing to mitigate impacts on students who have not received GI Bill benefits due to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) backlog. Office staff also met with state legislators earlier this year to work toward better aligning various statutes related to veterans, and VMSAC staff are national leaders on efforts to align the priorities of student veterans, higher education, and the VA. This important work supports the success of our military-connected Badgers.

Events are being hosted across campus in early November to recognize the contributions of veterans and service members. On Tuesday, November 6, the UW-Madison chapter of Student Veterans of America collaborated with College Library to sponsor a “human library.” Students with diverse military backgrounds were “checked out” of the library by community members for a conversation about their experiences. (see https://www.facebook.com/events/494780271005241/)

On Monday, November 12, a Veteran’s Day Flag Display will be led by student veterans allowing all Badgers the opportunity to honor the veterans in their lives. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., everyone is invited to attach to a flag the name of a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor who served or is serving and place the flag on Bascom Hill.

Also on November 12, the Wisconsin Memorial Union will be hosting a Veterans Day salute to service.

I encourage you to take time to participate in the Veterans Day events happening across campus and to join me in thanking our present and past Badgers for their service and sacrifices.