Tuesday, November 19, 2019

University takes new approach to Veterans Day programming

University takes new approach to Veterans Day programming

Nov. 7, 2019 —Veterans Day in San Antonio brings with it more than a week’s worth of ceremonies, presentations and parades each year. While such traditional events are important for Military City USA, veteran leadership at UTSA is putting a twist on the institution’s slate of events this year in an effort to further meaningful connections with the university’s military-affiliated population. 

“There are a number of different veterans events across San Antonio, many of which are formal and ceremonial, so we thought that this year a more personal and interactive approach would be best for our UTSA veteran community,” said Lt. Col. Brian Rendell, commander of the UTSA Air Force ROTC detachment. 

Beyond simply recognizing veterans, UTSA’s 2019 Veterans Day programming will focus on giving them support and appreciation through three events and a thoughtful library display.

“Three of the biggest contributors to a veteran’s sense of belonging on campus are faculty interactions, engagement and mentorship. None of the events we previously held really had those elements, so we wanted to change that,” said Michael Logan ’11, associate director of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, who has extensively researched effective strategies to serve and support the success of military-connected students. “We don’t just want to be designated as military-friendly. We want to be military-friendly.” 

The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs has already received a significant number of RSVPs for the Veteran Appreciation Reception on Nov. 19. Created with the university’s Great Staff Appreciation Event in mind, the reception is open to all veterans affiliated with UTSA, whether they’re students, faculty or staff.


Learn more about how UTSA supports military-affiliated students.


The laid-back event will include a resource fair with veteran service organizations such as Disabled American Veterans, United Way, Texas Veterans Commission, USO Pathfinder, Veterans Health Advisory Board, Purepost, Black Rifle Coffee, Sherer Communications, VetSuccess on Campus, Student Disability Services, and the Tomás Rivera Center.

It’s an opportunity for UTSA’s student-veterans to forge closer relationships with faculty and staff who have served as well as with community partners who can give them the support to succeed. 

“As far as I know, this is the first event to bring together the vets who work here and the vets who go to school here to thank them for what they’ve done for our country and what they do every day here at UTSA,” said retired Air Force Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin, associate vice president for veteran and military affairs. 

While veterans are welcome at the appreciation reception, all are invited to the grand opening of the Center for Military Affiliated Students on Nov. 14. UTSA’s veteran services were consolidated earlier this year, and the team moved to its new location on the first floor of the John Peace Library. CMAS is a “one-stop shop” that fulfills the needs of UTSA’s military-affiliated students, whether it involves veteran certification, counseling, financial assistance, career assistance or any other service. 

Visitors will be taken on guided tours through CMAS and the Vet Hangout Space during the grand opening event. During these tours they’ll learn about the center’s unique workflow and how the VMA office is aiding student-vets holistically through research, community partnerships and engagement as well as the hands-on continuum of support that helps service members transition from the military to UTSA, succeed as student-veterans, and thrive as they enter the workforce. 

“Most universities don’t serve the numbers that we serve. It’s close to 5,000 every semester,” Firmin said. “We can’t wait to show people how we do that effectively—to provide quality service to that many people.” 

Here’s a full list of UTSA’s upcoming military-affiliated programs: 

Honoring Military Caregivers
Saturday, Nov. 9 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Buena Vista Building (BVB 1.328) | Downtown Campus

This event hosted by the Center for Military Families will recognize both veterans and military caregivers. Guest speakers will include Thomas Alan Porter, professor in the College of Education and Human Development, and Jesus “Chuy” Lopez, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Porter has spent several semesters leading a Saturday morning writing sequence for military caregivers called Writing Back to You, in which participants connect, express themselves and heal through the power of the written word. A panel of these writing participants will share their unique experiences and selected writings inspired by their role as military caregivers. Operation Battle Buddies, Sigma Mental Health, Mission 22 and other organizations will also be on hand. Register online for free admission, lunch and parking. 

Veteran Library Display
Nov. 11–15 | John Peace Library (JPL 2nd Floor) | Main Campus

One of the best ways to honor veterans is to learn more about them, and this display will provide a broad perspective of those who have served. Fictional classics such as Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 will reside next to autobiographies and memoirs from recent tours, such as Until Tuesday, the story of a retired U.S. Army captain’s extraordinary relationship with his service dog. The display will also feature historic photos of servicemen and women from UTSA Libraries Special Collections and personal items from members of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. “So many men and women of all ethnicities joined different branches, and we want to display these different voices so that those interested can enrich their knowledge,” said Rachel Cannady, librarian and liaison to UTSA’s Veteran and Military Affairs. 

Center for Military Affiliated Students Grand Opening
Thursday, Nov. 14 | 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. | John Peace Library | Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22) | Main Campus

All veterans, faculty, staff and interested community members are invited to this grand opening event, which will include guided tours of the Center for Military Affiliated Students on the first floor of the John Peace Library and the Vet Hangout Space on the fourth floor. Six military-themed paintings by San Antonio artist Robert Wilkens will be displayed in both the CMAS and JPL Assembly Room. Food and refreshments will be provided. 

Inaugural Veteran Appreciation Reception
Tuesday, Nov. 19| 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.| Student Union | Denman Ballroom (SU 2.01.28) | Main Campus

All veterans affiliated with UTSA—students, faculty, and staff—are welcome to kick back at this celebratory event. UTSA President Taylor Eighmy will offer opening remarks, followed by a performance of service songs by members of the Spirit of San Antonio marching band. Several veteran service organizations will be on hand as well to provide attendees with helpful resources. The reception will also include poster presentations, giveaways and military-affiliated recognition. Food and refreshments will be provided.

Shea Conner


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