Honoring our Veterans

Midterms are behind us, our clocks have been set back and that familiar morning chill is in the air. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and finals are not far behind. Soon we will bring in the new year and another semester will be upon us.

Time seems to accelerate this time of year. We are busy fulfilling our commitment to those we serve as campus buzzes with an exciting variety of student activities, sporting events and the continuing improvements to our campus community. But this time of year calls us to pause and honor the significance of an important day in our country's history: Veterans Day.      

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day at the conclusion of WWI, or the “War to end all wars.” Sadly, the world continued to see conflict. Following WWII, President Eisenhower signed legislation changing the word Armistice to Veteran. Since then, we have recognized those who risked President Lincoln's "last full measure of devotion" in keeping with the historic significance of the date.

As a land grant institution, the University of Kentucky has a long and proud tradition of honoring those who have served. Both Memorial Hall and Memorial Coliseum stand for our fallen heroes. While remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we must also acknowledge and thank those men and women walking among us today. 

The University of Kentucky has well over a thousand student, faculty and staff veterans representing every branch of service and countless years of sacrifice. We also have a large number of military students serving in the National Guard, Reserves and the Reserve Officer Training Corps. In addition, we have a growing number of military family members attending UK.

Our tradition of honoring our veterans continues today in tangible and meaningful ways. UK has been consistently ranked by both GI Jobs Magazine and the Military Times, Edge Magazine as one of the top campuses in the nation for military and veteran students. More important, though, are the actions behind those rankings. 

The College of Fine Arts and the Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History produced Civilian, a powerful play that tells the story of student veterans who have returned from Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Understanding the challenges facing our veterans, the Women and Philanthropy recently provided the necessary support to take the play to every public university in Kentucky.            

Another collaborative effort involves the College of Social Work and the Department of Family Science who have joined talents and resources to develop a new graduate certificate aimed at working with our military and veteran communities. 

These efforts mean more to me than national rankings. They underscore our commitment to those who serve and sacrifice for us, and our capacity to support their success on our campus. To embolden our work, UK has been selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be a part of its Vet Success on Campus (VSOC) program, making us one of only two universities in Kentucky to have a VA employee on campus to assist student veterans.

On November 11th, in observance of Veterans Day, we will honor members of our UK Family that honorably served their country with programs across campus:

•   The campus-wide program will begin on the Main Building Lawn at 11:30am. Following the observance, all of our veterans, military students and family members will be invited to Buell Armory for free chili and soft drinks.

•   The College of Nursing will be honoring their veterans from 3:00 - 4:00pm in their student lounge. 

•   And the College of Education will be hosting their veterans from 5:00 - 6:00pm in room 109 of Dickey Hall. 

Please join Mary Lynne and me in thanking our veterans for their service and sacrifice, and let us continue to seek peace so that such sacrifice need not be necessary.