More than 75 people, including students, faculty and staff members who are veterans, attended Eastern Connecticut State University's Veteran's Day services on Nov. 11 in the Student Center Atrium. In addition to current Armed Services personnel, other veterans on Eastern's campus attended the ceremony in their dress uniforms. Melinda DeDominicis '15 sang the National Anthem. Lawrence Schmitz '12 coordinator of the Veteran's Education and Transition Services (VETS) Center, was the master of ceremonies.
Eastern President Elsa Núñez recounted the origins of the GI Bill of Rights and the day in 1944 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation that resulted in two million WWII vets going to college. She also reflected on those veterans who have served in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Today is a time to think about and thank those men and women and the millions of others who have served before them. We have about 250 veterans studying on our campus. Another 50 National Guardsmen are students, and we have 37 employees who are veterans. We owe all of them a debt of gratitude."
Guest Speaker Army Major Glenn Colby, a decorated veteran who has served in the military for 27 years, reminded the audience that war impacts the families of soldiers in addition to those who serve on the front lines. "I am very proud of the veterans on this campus."
Following the formal ceremony, the Third Annual "Veteran's Challenge" was held on the campus grounds. Teams of teams of students, faculty and staff engaged in physical challenges based on the workout sessions of the late Medal of Honor recipient and Navy Seal Lt. Michael Murphy, who was killed in action during a tour in Afghanistan. The challenge raises funds for scholarships for veterans on Eastern's campus. The winning team in the Veteran's Challenge was the Stealth Warriors (Kevin Paquin, Kevin Clancy, Mike Clancy and Josh Harrold), who came in first out of 18 teams with a time of 15 minutes. The men's lacrosse team finished second by 12 seconds. The total amount of money raised for veterans' scholarships was $2,200.