Every year on Nov. 11, Americans take the time to honor the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives to fight for this country.
The end of World War I was declared on Nov. 11, 1918. Former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared that day to be one of commemoration for those who fought in the war. It wasn’t until 1954 that Congress chose to make Nov. 11 Veterans Day, in order to honor those who have sacrificed their lives in any war.
There are approximately 180 veterans enrolled at FSU, according to FSU Coordinator for Veteran Services Jacquelyn Wolf.
FSU President F. Javier Cevallos said he is proud to have veterans be part of the “fRAMily.”
He added, “They bring a whole different perspective to campus, and we benefit and learn from their experiences.”
He said Veteran Services moved from the McCarthy Center to Crocker Hall in order to accommodate more students as well as open opportunities for expanding the program.
Wolf is a veteran herself. She was a flight medic for the Air Force Reserves, and then a respiratory therapist in the Army. She has been at FSU for about a year, but has worked in Veteran Services for other universities for seven.
“I am a student advocate. I assist student veterans with their education benefits, and I certify their education benefits with the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs], which helps the student pay for college,” she said.
According to Wolf, Veteran Services offers “networking with outside veteran agencies, lists of scholarships and many different support resources.” FSU also offers a state tuition waiver.
According to mass.gov, veterans in the state are eligible to take “any state-supported course in an undergraduate degree program offered by a public college or university.”
Because Veterans Day is on a Saturday this year, Veteran Services, along with the Center for Inclusive Excellence, hosted a veterans’ luncheon on Nov. 6.
Several student veterans discussed their experience transitioning from the military to FSU and what Veterans Day means to them.
Robert Campbell, a freshman, is in his second year of an eight-year-contract with the Army.
“FSU, to me, is a place where I can still move forward with my education in order to help me get a civilian career after military life. The school is accommodating when it comes to the GI Bill,” he said.
According to military.com, the GI Bill is an education benefit, which helps cover the cost of education. It is “earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families.”
Campbell added, “I want students to know that I joined because I love my country and I want to protect it and those in it. I chose this, and I love being a part of it, and I love what I do in it.
“Less than one percent of the population of the United States decides to join the military. Those who join are writing a blank check to the country payable for the amount of their lives. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. No matter what branch they are in, they are willing to put their lives on the line for the good of the country and those in it,” he added.
Senior Leanna Gonzalez served in the U.S. Army for 16 years. She left service as an E-7, or Sergeant First Class.
“It has been a bit of a struggle – readjusting to civilian life can be a challenging task in and of itself. Navigating FSU has been an exceedingly tiring process for many veterans, myself included. I feel the more the FSU community realizes how many veterans attend FSU and the unique needs many of us come with, the more veteran friendly this campus truly becomes,” she said about her experience.
Gonzalez said, “Veterans Day is my day. It is a day my brothers and sisters in arms can proudly celebrate ourselves and the accomplishments we achieved while we served and as we continue to challenge ourselves personally and professionally as students.”
Senior Devin Jones was in the Navy for six years as a Hospital Corpsman, 2nd Class Petty Officer (E-5, or Sergeant.) He was part of the Marine Corps as a field service medical technician.
While Jones considers FSU a “good establishment,” he believes the University does not support his conservative views and should be more open-minded to a range of political opinions.
He said, “Like most other college institutions, they foster and encourage one-sided ideals. … This practice undertaken by many college organizations undermines the basic principles and freedoms the country was founded on. It is irreprehensible to mute an opposing view while simultaneously promoting another.”
Jones said, “Veterans Day is recognition of those who have fervently and meritoriously adhered to the proud traditions of honor, courage and commitment in service of these United States of America. … We acknowledge that many of the freedoms we enjoy were paid for in the highest of prices by currency that has no true measure.
“The blood, sweat and tears of those willing to go toward the danger and uncertainty that so many others would flee from. We concede that the hope, aspirations and dreams of the American people that bloom like flowers, sprout from the soil of lost wishes, ambitions and goals of those who have perished, so that we may flourish,” he added.
Senior Jameson Frederick was a First Lieutenant in the Army for four years before coming to FSU.
For Frederick, “FSU is a second chance. My experience with military culture was such that when I was a servicemember, it was difficult to imagine myself doing anything else. … FSU represents a second chance at a stable, steady career without the same sacrifices, obligations and expectations of the military.
“As rigorous as that training can be, I can only imagine what served as its groundwork. I’m grateful for those veterans’ courage in enduring the most austere conditions and confronting almost certain death so that our nation could remain just that – ours,” he added.
When asked what this day means to him, he said, “I reflect on the periods in our country’s history when other nations sought to conquer us. When Americans asked, ‘Who will defend us? Who will put themselves in harm’s way to fight to preserve our Constitution and our way of life?’ And millions of men and women across the U.S. replied, ‘I will.’ … The only thing I hope civilians ponder on Veterans Day is how much different life would be if our enemies from wars past had won instead of us.
“Even though I was in the military, I don’t agree with what it does and how it’s run. … I’m not crazy about guns. … I believe transgender individuals, provided they meet all physical & psychological requirements, should be allowed to serve. I may not agree with everything that goes on in America, but America is still my home, and my home I’ll defend.”