Veterans enrich our learning community

On Veterans Day, our nation honors those who have served so well and sacrificed so much. Originally established as Armistice Day, this federal holiday honored veterans of World War I. Later, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day and broadened the focus to include all veterans.

Our university is home to nearly 900 current or former military personnel, according to 2020 data. This includes students preparing for military careers through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, and those serving in the military reserves or National Guard.

That last group — our National Guard— has a unique dual mission. While maintaining military readiness and ability to deploy anywhere in the world, they are also called upon for domestic emergencies. They were mobilized to great effect during the global pandemic, providing assistance in testing and vaccination across Wisconsin. (See an interview with UW-Madison senior and National Guard member Abby Beem about balancing military service and student life.)

UW-Madison gives veterans the opportunity to pursue an education that will fuel their success in civilian and military life. In doing so, the university also reaps valuable dividends. As more veterans come to our campus, they bring a unique mix of leadership and experience to the classroom. Their unique perspectives enrich our learning community in many ways.

Lorence Ayag, a U.S. Marine veteran and UW-Madison student pursuing a degree in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies , is one of our featured speakers at the Veterans Day ceremony at Memorial Union.

At 1:45 p.m. on Veterans Day, the Student Veterans of America will host a flag dedication ceremony on Bascom Hill. Community members can place flags on the Hill in honor of a veteran. Those who cannot attend in-person can submit flag requests online.

This is a great opportunity to show your support for our campus community of veterans — including more than 380 faculty and staff colleagues who are also veterans. If you don’t get a chance to place a flag, please take an opportunity to thank a veteran for their service. All of us are indebted to them for their service.