Veterans Day is a chance for Americans to thank those who served in the U.S. military, and some Eastern Michigan University student veterans gave a glimpse into what the holiday means to them and spoke about what’s going on around campus on Tuesday - including a look at the location for EMU’s new Military and Veterans Resource Center.
The U.S. has an estimated 22 million veterans according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, and EMU had more than 500 student veterans enrolled in classes last year.
Sean Stevens an EMU communications senior who served in the Army and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, uses the holiday as an opportunity to let warfighters of previous generations know their sacrifices are recognized.
“Whenever I see someone with a veteran shirt or hat on I talk to them and share experiences, Vietnam vets especially,” Stevens said. “When they came home, people didn’t treat them like they should’ve been treated. I like to let Vietnam Vets know that we care about them and we’re grateful for everything they did.”
Many restaurants and businesses will be offering special deals on Tuesday, and Stevens said he usually goes out for a free meal to celebrate Veterans Day.
“I’m going to go to Applebee’s for dinner with my girlfriend,” he said. “I’ve gone to Applebee’s on Veterans Day every year since I got home from Afghanistan. I really appreciate what they do to show their support for veterans.”
There is also a chance to receive some free chow on campus and to check out the new location for veteran counseling and advising. EMU’s veterans and supporters are encouraged to take advantage of hors d'oeuvres and refreshments from noon-5 p.m. on Tuesday at 202 Pierce Hall and also receive a sneak peak at the new location for EMU’s Military and Veterans Resource Center.
“The open house will serve two purposes. First and most importantly, the open house is to honor and thank EMU’s military and veteran students for their past, current and future service in the United States Armed Forces,” Michael Wise, a retired Lieutenant Colonel who served more than 20 years in the Army and who was recently appointed as the assistant director for Veterans Services at EMU said in a press release.
“Lastly, we want to welcome and introduce our military and veteran students to their new MVRC facility, which is scheduled to be fully operational as early as the end of the fall semester,” Wise said.
Jim Neel, president of EMU’s Student Veterans of America chapter, posted an approving message to the student organization’s Facebook site.
“This is what we have been waiting for- a place to call our own again,” the post said. “Please come out and support the great folks in the MVRC, enrollment management, financial aid and facilities who have worked hard to put this together.”
Neel, an EMU grad student studying history, retired after serving 24 years as an Army medic, and he deployed to Iraq three times. He said the day evokes happiness when thinking back at having the opportunity of serving with so many great American men and women from all over the country.
“As a third generation military retiree within my family, it gives me a sense of appreciation that there is a day that honors the service of those that protect our country,” Neel said.
Neel will be at the open house’s festivities on Veterans Day and said the MVRC is “a place [for veterans] to be themselves and to tell their stories.”
EMU junior Andrew Crumb is a history major but wants to find a career in law enforcement. While deployed to Babahani, Iraq, in 2007, he survived an attack from an improvised explosive device when it was detonated near his vehicle. Crumb said he won’t have a big celebration for the holiday, but the day of appreciation is well received amongst those who served.
“I guess it’s a good thing to have a set day for it,” Crumb said. “But, what’s wrong with thanking people for what they do anytime you get a chance? Not asking for handouts, just a thank you.”
Crumb said his Veterans Day will include classes, a trip to the gym and perhaps a late night beer.