An on-going display at the JFK Library and special events last Saturday at Roos Field are among a number of activities that Eastern Washington University has sponsored to celebrate the upcoming Veterans Day holiday.
The annual veterans display in the JFK Library will remind visitors why we celebrate Veterans Day, says Dave Millet, a U.S. Army veteran of 25 years and founding director of EWU’s Veteran Resource Center. “We can say we have a day off, and that’s great. But what is the purpose of Veterans Day? How can we [use the holiday to] reach out to veterans in the community? How can we advocate for our veterans and military-connected families?”
The library display provides information to help visitors do just that. It also features historic reminders of the role university graduates and community members have played in our nation’s defense, among them three uniforms from Eagle family service members.
One belonged to retired faculty member Alan Basham; another to the father of Laurie Hays, program coordinator for EWU’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; and a third to the grandfather of Beth Baker, director of the university’s Adult and Lifelong Learner Resource Center. There are “challenge coins” as well, some dating back to the First World War. Commanders give challenge coins to service members who go “above and beyond” in their contributions.
Another feature of the display — one that is particularly meaningful to Millet — is a board where visitors can post notes honoring those who have served. Millet says he keeps every note. “It’s a nice way for anyone to walk through the library and say, ‘Hey, I appreciate your service,’” he says.
In addition to the JFK display, a Veterans Appreciation event, including a flyover featuring an Air Force a KC-135 Stratotanker, was held during last weekend’s football game against Montana State.
The flyover proceeded the game at Roos Field, which also featured an exhibition of Air Force and Army vehicles. Eastern Athletics recognized the service of several individual veterans during the contest, and also sponsored the distribution of free tickets to service members and military families.
The activities, Millet says, are just part of a larger, ongoing effort by the Veterans Resource Center to not only celebrate service members, but to educate the university community about their needs. For example, Millet and other faculty members recently held an event called “Got your 6,” which, in military parlance means, “I’ve got your back.” The program is intended to help faculty and staff better understand how they can do more to help EWU’s student veterans succeed.