UNA Veteran’s Day program draws record student attendance

Veterans and active duty soldiers stand at attention as Katherine Canlas Richey, UNA alumna and retired U.S. Army staff sergeant, speaks at the annual Veteran’s Day Commemoration Ceremony Nov. 11. Instructor Wayne Bergeron said around 300 students attending UNA currently serve or have served in the military.

by Staff Writer Spencer Brooks

The campus community showed its overwhelming support for our current and former student veterans this Veteran’s Day.

UNA saw the highest attendance recorded at its annual Veteran’s Day Commemoration Ceremony Nov. 11. Past and current veterans, students, faculty and staff gathered at 11 a.m. to honor those who served.

“This is the largest attendance for the ceremony we’ve had in five years, and the largest student attendance to date,” said department of politics, justice and law instructor Lt. Col. Wayne Bergeron.

A ribbon cutting for the new Military and Veteran Support Center followed the ceremonies, providing food and beverages for veterans on campus. The Center is on the second floor of the Guillot University Center across from the Performance Center.

“It’s a space for veterans to get together and help each other with the transition from service to college,” said Student Government Association President Nick Lang.

Bergeron said around 300 students attending UNA currently serve or have served in the military.

“(The Military and Veteran Support Center) is a place for military veterans to come and see what they need, whether it be health concerns or financial aid,” he said.

Bergeron said he hopes the university will establish a veteran office to help staffed with veterans in the future.

Although Bergeron said he does not want to duplicate services already offered at UNA, he said he wants the office to cover services specifically for military veterans.

“We would like to see recruiting for military veteran students who are not in school to enroll and students or anyone interested in joining the military and earning their degree,” Bergeron said. “Having a place on campus where military veteran students can call their own and share experiences is a good start.”

Junior Reid Sherrod said he is proud UNA made a place for military veterans to congregate and feel comfortable.

“What they do allows us to be college students and pursue our dream careers,” he said. “The least they deserve is a place of their own.”

Katherine Canlas Richey, UNA alumna and retired U.S. Army staff sergeant, spoke at the event. SGA and UNA Military and Veteran Alliance co-sponsored the day’s activities.

“It’s a very important day, especially for students to recognize veterans,” Lang said. “Because of them, we have the freedom to be students and take classes at UNA.”

Junior Amanda Hilliker said she appreciates the recognition UNA is giving veterans by honoring those, including her parents, who have served and are currently serving.

“Seeing everyone, even people walking around, stopping when ‘Taps’ was being played was amazing and so respectful,” Hilliker said.