Last Saturday, Nov. 14, the TRIO Office and student Vets 4 Vets club hosted an official card-making party in the Phoenix Rooms in the University Union. It was an awesome turnout! In addition to 57 Upward Bound high school students and staff, another 33 people attended including UW-Green Bay students, veterans, local Boy and Girl Scouts, UWGB staff and TRIO summer resident assistants. In addition, many members of SASU also contributed their time and effort to the project. Over 100 people volunteered at least an hour or more of their time.
For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has earned the 2016 Military Friendly® School designation. The designation reflects positive marks in ten categories including military support on campus, graduation and employment outcomes, military spouse policies, and more.
“It is definitely an honor to be considered a Military Friendly institution,” says Elaina Koltz, UWGB’s Veterans Services adviser. “Not many will understand exactly what these veterans have gone through.
“When they sign up for their GI Bill, they present their DD214 discharge papers and I get a small peek into their sacrifice. I see the Purple Heart awards; the discharges due to service-connected disabilities and the long periods of time spent in a combat zone.”
Koltz says that she and UW-Green Bay staff colleagues see it as an honor to serve these veterans and their families.
“When you are surrounded by these silent heroes on a daily basis it is an honor to serve them,” she says. “Then you see them graduate and become successful like Staff Sergeant Jared Spude, selected speaker for UW-Green Bay’s Veteran’s Day Reception on Nov. 11, and you are again both inspired and humbled. UW-Green Bay recognizes these sacrifices and responds. That is why it is considered a Military Friendly institution.”
UW-Green Bay alumnus Spude is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and Wisconsin National Guard. He presented an impassioned speech on behalf of Veterans, calling those in attendance to think about veterans and those who serve each day, and not just once a year.
Spude thanked the faculty, staff and administration on behalf of his fellow veterans for “going above and beyond to make sure that our needs our met, and for providing us with the tools to be successful in our educational endeavors.”
The following are some other excerpts from his Veterans Day remarks:
“I’m here to remember, encourage, motivate and challenge each and every one of you to reflect on what today is, what it represents, what the sacrifices remembered here today have brought for us and the great nation that we call home. I’m here to remind us that we all need to take a little time out of our day today—and every day to remember those who have served.
“Winston Churchill said, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” …That is what Veterans Day is all about. As a nation, we have flourished because we’ve always had citizens willing to stand up and answer the call to serve in hours of need. Today, we honor our veterans, past, and present, for their sacrifice and dedication to our great nation.
“As Americans we forget too often and too quickly what it took and continues to take to be alive… even on a day like today, we want to celebrate, bringing in a little pomp and circumstance when too often we forget about what this day is really about — solemn remembrance, peaceful reflection, active thankfulness.
“My call to action and challenge for you this Veterans Day 2015 is to remember Veterans and all they have done not only today, but every day. Thank a Vet. Find time. Make time in your days to reflect for one minute about what it means to be free and remember the sacrifices it took. Make time to educate your children, serve in your community, help others and most importantly live a life that is worthy of the sacrifices Veterans made to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I challenge you today to find a veteran every day. Whether it is your teacher, your coach, your neighbor, or that guy that sits next to you in church and thank them. Thank them for their service. Thank them for their courage. Their commitment. Their sacrifice. I call you to action. To take time out of your day to stand here and look at old glory. Think about these veterans and other veterans you know. Have some pride for this flag and for our country and in our liberty.
“On this Veterans Day, there is so much to commemorate, and so much more to be thankful for. We would not be where we are today without the heroes we call veterans. Today we have the privilege of honoring this very small and special group of Americans, whose service spans every decade of our country’s existence. We owe them so much. But most importantly we owe them our freedom. And today, especially, we owe them our gratitude. Thank you —and God Bless America.”
Jared Spude is a 2008 graduate of Southern Door High School. He was named UWGB’s outstanding graduate in May 2015. He and his platoon served in Afghanistan. His role was to serve as a master navigator and coordinator from the ground as his platoon controlled fires of mortar tubes and artillery cannons. He continues to serve in the Wisconsin National Guard as an Instructor at the Wisconsin Military Academy, Fort McCoy — which is recognized as one of the outstanding artillery training institutes in the nation. He works full-time as a client services manager for Breakthrough Fuel, in Green Bay.
For the second consecutive year, students and alumni of UW-Green Bay who are veterans or active-duty personnel helped serve as flag holders during opening ceremonies for the Packers’ “Salute to Service” military appreciation game. The volunteers unfurled a football-field-size Star Spangled Banner at the Nov. 15 game at Lambeau Field. Visit the album on Flickr to enjoy photos from the day.
(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)
– Photos by Dan Moore, photographer, Office of Outreach and Adult Access
The UW System announced this week that it will begin accepting applications from campuses for UW VETS Certification, officially recognizing their exceptional commitment to helping student veterans succeed. The University of Wisconsin VETS (Veterans Education and Transition to Success) Certification highlights campuses that go above and beyond in a wide range of critical supportive services, including counseling, providing a welcoming campus environment, and giving student veterans a voice in university life. To meet certification criteria, UW VETS campuses will:
- Train campus faculty and staff on issues that student veterans may face in transitioning to college including scheduling, making connections, study habits, and health and welfare challenges;
- Conduct regular surveys of student veterans to identify needs and get input;
Establish a campus steering committee composed of student veterans, faculty and staff to share information and provide guidance to campus leadership;
- Provide student veteran-focused orientation programming;
Identify internal and external counseling resources to assist student veterans with academic, financial and social concerns; and
- Provide a dedicated space on campus where student veterans can meet peers and
receive help with benefits, enrollment and connecting to supportive resources.
For more details, see https://www.wisconsin.edu/news/archive/uw-vets-certification-program-launches/
For a seventh consecutive year — making it a perfect seven-for-seven, in fact, since the honor’s origin — UW-Green Bay has been named a “Military Friendly School.” Victory Media, Inc., puts UW-Green Bay among the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s service members and veterans as students. Among factors contributing to the University’s top-tier placement in the survey:
— One of the UW System’s highest enrollments of active-duty and veteran students (about 5 percent of total enrollment);
— A strong student organization (the Vets 4 Vets Club);
— Institutional commitment to veterans services, including a dedicated staff position;
— Active programming, service work and outreach efforts (things like Care Packages, thank-you notes, special events);
— A dedicated veterans center on campus (At Ease Lounge in MAC Hall); and
— Demonstrated success in retaining and graduating students who are veterans.
On Wednesday (Nov. 11) the Phoenix Bookstore would like to say “Thank You For Your Service” to all people with military ID. Show your military ID and save 30 percent off your purchase. (Offer excludes textbooks, commencement regalia and gift cards.)
Nicholas Gries, a nontraditional student at UW-Green Bay, has had many experiences in his life that have made him the man he is today. But it is his military experience that drives his current passion to dive further, dig deeper — both at the University, and in service to his community.
“The number one thing that the military has taught me is not to be content with my situation; you can always do more…” says Gries, a business and finance major. “The military has also taught me to set my goals high and work hard until the mission is complete. We do not fail. We make mistakes, learn from them, and get back up and try again.”
Gries served as a fire team leader in in the 1st Ranger Battalion of the United States Army from 2002 until 2006. In 2010 he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard as a squad leader. In 2012, he joined the National Guard full time, in the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) as a non-commissioned officer, a position he maintains today.
Gries was one of the two founders of 4th HOOAH WI (Helping out our American Heroes), a local branch of a national organization dedicated to supporting deployed service men and women, their stateside families and returning veterans. Gries has also helped establish a scholarship at UW-Green Bay for continuing service men and women, or veterans of the armed forces.
“I am president of 4th HOOAH WI, and we look at any and every way possible to help Veterans and their families,” he says. “I am a firm believer in higher education for everyone so this is one way we can help veterans and their families reach the goals they set out for themselves.”
This year, Veterans Day (Wednesday, Nov. 11) will be a little more hectic for Gries, who is an organizer of HOOAH WI’s major fundraising effort of the year —the third annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March — a 22-mile walk/run/march beginning at Stadium View Bar and Grille, 1963 Holmgren Way. At 4 p.m. that day, HOOAH WI will be recognized, with other veterans’ scholarship donors, at UW-Green Bay’s annual Veterans Reception at 4 p.m. in the University Union.
(The expression “hooah,” incidentally, has no precise dictionary definition, but is instantaneously recognizable to service members and veterans (mostly Army) as military slang — a confident, catch-all expression of high morale, cohesiveness and motivation.)
Gries, a Bay Port High School graduate, said he was initially drawn to UW-Green Bay because of its sound business program and the school’s location, but he has been impressed after the fact that the campus provides the non-traditional student an ideal opportunity for degree completion.
“I am not a traditional student…The thing I like the best about the campus and school is the times of the classes, allowing me to make it to my full time job…All of my instructors have been more than understanding…I believe nontraditional students are more than welcomed and treated as peers.”
For more information about the Third Annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March.
Story by student Emily Schuh, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication Office
All faculty, staff, students and community are invited to the Chancellor’s Veterans Reception at 4 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 11, in the Phoenix Room of the University Union. This year’s guest speaker will be UW-Green Bay alumnus, Staff Sgt. Jared Spude. Spude was honored at last May’s commencement as Outstanding Student of his graduating class. The Political Science and Public Administration grad enrolled at UWGB in 2011 after serving as a forward observer with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. He is currently one of five certified instructors of military joint forward observers throughout the country. The Nov. 11 reception is free and open to all.
*** *** *** *** ***
Koltz publicizes oral-history project, collection — Veterans services coordinator Elaine Koltz says the Nov. 11 reception on campus will be an opportunity to promote a new project called “Voices of Veterans.” She says student Sean Gleason is working to produce an oral history collection of veterans in our community. Also in connection with Veterans Day observances at UWGB, volunteers are collecting items and gift cards for Elizabeth, a new resident of the new Green Bay Veterans Manor who is in need of basic household items, (i.e. dishes, towels, lamps, etc.) If you cannot make the reception and want to drop off items or gift cards for Elizabeth, please drop them off in the collection box in the Veterans Lounge in MAC Hall or at Elaina Koltz’ office in Financial Aid.
The Green Bay women’s basketball team will open its 2015-16 season on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., hosting archrival Marquette on Military Appreciation Day at the Kress. All veterans and current service members will receive free ticket to the game, and their guests will receive discounted game tickets at the price of $5 for adults and youth. Phoenix players will also wear special jerseys honoring local female service members. Prior to the game, the service members who are being honored with their names on the back of the jerseys will take the floor with the Green Bay women’s basketball team for the national anthem. At halftime, the Phoenix Hero Award will be presented. Last week, head coach Kevin Borseth surprised the award’s recipient, UWGB staff member Elaina Koltz, with the announcement and news she’d have a special seat courtside on the 13th. Koltz, who is today a financial aid adviser and veteran’s services coordinator, spent 22 years in the military including five years in Germany as administrative assistant to the Commander in Chief of Europe and the Seventh Army, General Glenn K. Otis. For more on the day and honors, and a video of Borseth’s surprise visit to Koltz.
Elaina Koltz, veterans services coordinator, reminds us of plans for a program titled “Wounded Warriors: Their Last Battle,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in MAC Hall 103. Guest speaker Deborah Grassman speaks on how military experience can impact peaceful dying for veterans even decades later. Grassman will talk about end-of-life issues unique to veterans, and tools for effective ways to respond to veterans’ needs. Koltz describes Grassman as a mental health nurse practitioner recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts in caring for veterans nearing the end of life.