The UW-Green Bay and larger communities came together Friday (Nov. 9) to celebrate those who serve and have served during the annual Chancellor’s Veteran Reception.
Campus and community attendees packed the Phoenix Room for the dignified afternoon ceremony, which included a color guard, songs, speakers — and most important, steadfast appreciation.
“May we never take for granted what our veterans have done for us,” UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden told the crowd. “We owe a tremendous eternal debt to all of our American veterans.”
Each branch of the military was honored in turn at the start of Friday’s program, with current and former members asked to stand and be recognized while their respective anthems played. Veteran Jeremy Wildenberg, a UW-Green Bay graduate student, instructor and Institute for Learning Partnership staff member, delivered the keynote address. Wildenberg served 14 years in the military as a linguist and intelligence analyst, including deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Wildenberg talked about the proud history of the military as well as the not-so-proud treatment some veterans — including his father — received when they returned from Vietnam.
“Fortunately,” Wildenberg noted, “things have changed quite a bit since then.”
Wildenberg told a rapt audience about the pride of service and the pain of losing those who paid the ultimate price for their country. He also talked about enrolling at UW-Green Bay, and how veterans services adviser Elaina Koltz was among those who welcomed him and eased his transition in going back to school.
UW-Green Bay has 355 individuals receiving veterans benefits, including 252 veterans and service members as well as dependents. That number is expected to increase to more than 400 by early next year, Koltz said. UW-Green Bay recently was named a Military Friendly School for the fourth consecutive year, an honor bestowed by Victory Media Inc. that recognizes the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that do the most to embrace military service members, veterans and spouses as students, and to ensure their success on campus.
Those efforts have made a tremendous difference for students like Wildenberg, he said.
“If there’s one lesson I’ve learned at UWGB,” he said, “it’s that there’s nothing more impactful than the relationships we form.”
— Photos by Lindsey Przybylski, student photographer, Office of Marketing and University Communication