Veterans Day celebrations will have a different look and feel this year on campus, with most events taking place remotely.
This week also offers opportunities for giving, such as a clothing drive for St. Vincent de Paul to benefit homeless veterans, a “vets-giving” food pantry for student veterans and a POW/MIA table in the Erb Memorial Union to represent troops missing in action and prisoners of war.
The events are being coordinated by the various organizations on campus dedicated to supporting veterans and raising awareness about veteran’s issues.
“This year is a little bit challenging because of COVID and we have to do (the ceremony) online, but we are still hoping to make it really unique and special,” said Maria Kalnbach, coordinator of nontraditional and veteran student engagement and success. “Our goal for our Veterans Day ceremony is that veterans, whether they are students, faculty or staff, all feel honored and respected on our campus.”
Events are being organized by the Student Veterans Center, an organization that works to bring veterans together and offers opportunities to learn about resources. This year the center is conducting events online for the around 500 military-affiliated students at the UO. The center, along with programs like Peer Advisors for Veteran Education, provide a bridge between veterans and student life.
PAVE is a program that connects a peer advisor with incoming veteran students to help them integrate into the UO community and bring awareness about resources available to veterans.
“When I first came to school, I didn't want to talk to 18- or 19-year-old kids in my class because we had no shared life experience,” said PAVE co-lead Garrett Smith, a third-year political science and history major. “What PAVE does is that we are that person that has shared experience at the university. You may be more inclined to try and make friends with somebody who has shared life experience”
In addition to providing vets with resources, these programs are also working to reduce general stereotypes in the UO community surrounding what it means to be a veteran.
“We have to be cognizant that there is a stereotypical view of what student veterans are but we have to recognize that veterans are just as diverse as every other population, so we need to create services that are welcoming for everyone,” said PAVE co-lead Vala Hollebier, a family and human services major. “Veterans come in all sizes, shapes, races, genders, political affiliations.”
Join the Veterans day ceremony Wednesday and follow the Veteran Instagram @uovets to stay up to date with their events.
—By Sophia Prince, University Communications