Thank you, veterans: UW-Green Bay hosts annual reception

While most of Andrea Fox’s friends were in the prime of their college years, Fox herself was having a vastly different experience — the National Guardswoman was serving a yearlong deployment in Iraq.

Now 24 and a sophomore at UW-Green Bay, Fox recalls the disconnect as difficult — not to mention the separation from daughter Nico, now 4.

It’s a sacrifice familiar to many UW-Green Bay students, and one that was honored Thursday, Nov. 10 when the University hosted its annual Chancellor’s Veteran Reception. Fox, the recipient of this year’s UW-Green Bay Veteran’s Scholarship, said the recognition means a lot.

“I think it’s important to remember all vets,” she said. “I’m thankful people recognize us, and that it’s a positive recognition.”

That recognition is perhaps more important than ever as UW-Green Bay serves an increasing number of veterans and their dependents. During the 2010-11 school year, the University had 410 veterans and dependents using veterans education benefits, an increase of about 100 such individuals from the prior academic year and up from 165 just five years ago. Nearly 250 of the 410 were veterans.

Moreover, UW-Green Bay continues to have current students called to active duty, including more who are preparing to be activated in February, said Elaina Koltz, veteran services adviser at UW-Green Bay. Those students are scheduled to go to Kuwait to assist with the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Veterans young and old were among those honored during the Nov. 10 reception, which began with the presentation of the colors and a salute to military veterans from each branch of the armed services. UW-Green Bay Vets 4 Vets Club president Dwayne Haines, service dog at his side, served as emcee for the event, which included remarks from Chancellor Thomas K. Harden and a keynote address from broadcast personality John Maino.

During a sometimes-somber presentation punctuated with humor and touching personal stories, Maino — the author of the books Frontlines: Personal Accounts of Wisconsin Veterans and The Pacific — offered a deep appreciation of veterans past and present.

Maino long has been involved with sports and sports broadcasting, he told the 75 or so Veteran Reception attendees. And while teamwork often is touted in that context, it’s nothing like the camaraderie among members of the military, he said.

“You have never seen or felt (anything like it),” Maino said. “ … It’s palpable. You can feel how they have each other’s back.”

As part of that commitment, UW-Green Bay’s Vet 4 Vets Club on Thursday was collecting items for care packages to be sent to active-duty service members. U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble was a special guest at the UW-Green Bay reception, presenting Harden with additional items for the collection. The event also featured the “Wisconsin Wall,” which honors all Wisconsin veterans who have died since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A nearby chair sat empty to honor and remember prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIA).

For three years running, G.I. Jobs magazine has designated UW-Green Bay as a top “military friendly school” for its support of veterans. Recent veteran-centric events have included UW-Green Bay’s Veteran Open House and the Hiring Our Heroes job fair held in October at Lambeau Field. UW-Green Bay’s Counseling and Health Services has paid special attention to veteran health concerns, hosting “Seeking Light in the Darkness,” a program for veterans who have lost a friend or loved one to suicide.

UW-Green Bay initiated its annual Veteran Reception in 2005 to recognize those coming back to campus after activation and to honor all veterans on campus and in the community.

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Photos by Kelly McBride, Marketing and University Communication

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