Western holds Veteran’s Day ceremony
To honor those who’ve risked their lives for the freedom of our community, Western hosted it’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room.
Students, faculty and community members alike came together to hear from multiple speakers, including University President Sabah Randhawa, and to show their support for those in their community who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“It’s important to recognize that veteran’s services is about much more than making good on society’s obligation to our veterans,” Randhawa said. “It’s about what we as a campus community gain from having veterans, how they enrich the narrative of everyone on campus with their experience, creativity and leadership skills.”
Randhawa expressed his appreciation for the 210 veteran students and 100 veteran faculty members on campus, and the even greater amount of current and former military members in the Bellingham community.
Upwards of 80 people attended the event, and around half identified themselves as veterans when asked to stand by the event’s organizer and opening speaker, the Associated Students Veterans Community Coordinator and Veteran, Russel Thompson.
It’s important to have a strong veteran community, and events like these are one way to maintain that, Thompson said in regards to organizing the event. “It’s about saying hi to friends and making new friends based on our shared experiences,” Thompson said.
Alisa Aist, a junior biology major who volunteered to run the information table, hopes that all who attended the event take something home with them.
“I hope the veterans that were in attendance feel supported by everyone else here at the university,” Aist said. “Veterans are a part of our community and we should be trying to support everyone so they can be as successful in life as they want to be.”
Another speaker was Jeff Carroll, an associate psychology professor at Western who served four and a half years in the U.S. Army. His speech was a lighthearted telling of his troublesome upbringing and his fateful decision to join the army that would shape the rest of his life, with a few jokes added here and there.
“My wife is Canadian, I married up,” Carroll said, met by a chorus of laughter. “I can say that because, as a veteran, the one thing I don’t have to answer for is my patriotism.”
While in the army, Carroll’s mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, which sparked his interest in science and he began taking classes through the army’s education program. This would be the roots of his eventual career in neuroscience and psychology.
“I wouldn’t be Dr. Carroll, nor Professor Carroll, nor maybe even here if it hadn’t been for the military,” Carroll said.
The third speaker of the event was Western alumna Heather Mueller, who spoke about post-traumatic stress disorder and the alarming rates of suicide amongst veterans. She challenged the audience, and herself, to try and do whatever they can to support local veterans. Whether that be petitioning local government for better accommodations, or simply sitting and listening to a veteran’s stories and expressing care for them.
The event concluded with a reception, where guests were offered food and encouraged to look at the wall adorned with pictures of Western’s veterans, and to add names to photos that didn’t already have one.