With 1,270 veterans attending UMass Lowell—a figure that has grown dramatically since the new GI Bill—the needs for increased administrative staff and dedicated space have grown proportionately.
At a ceremonial flag-raising in honor of Veterans Day, Chancellor Marty Meehan told those assembled, “We have committed space to create a combined Veterans’ Benefit Office and Drop-in Center, with full-time and part-time staff, so that our student veterans can find the resources they need and the support of other veterans on campus.”
Meehan pledged to work with student veterans to ensure the space is truly responsive to their needs. With a date certain set for September 2011, Meehan said the facility might be ready as early as March.
During the flag-raising ceremony organized and hosted by the Student Veterans Organization, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown took the podium along with other elected officials, invited by SVO President David Boyd.
“I am honored to be invited by the Student Veterans Organization, who took the initiative to organize this event,” said Brown. “Student veterans offer a unique experience to the campus. They have gone from high school to war to college, and we can benefit from their creativity and ingenuity as student leaders.
Veterans Challenged to Join the Debate
“Now I challenge them to engage in the national debate over the future of our country,” Brown continued. “They have the credibility and authority to contribute.”
Referring to the new GI Bill as “the greatest investment in veterans and their families since World War II,” Brown is working on legislation to simplify and streamline the GI Bill, so that more veterans can take advantage of the educational benefits it offers.
State Sen. Stephen Panagiotakos and state Rep. David Nangle also spoke at the event. Each spoke of the importance of supporting veterans and active-duty military personnel, as well as their families.
In the solemn ceremony, an honor guard of the Air Force ROTC on campus presented the colors. The flag, kept on display in Allen House, is one that had been flown over Camp Slayer in Iraq and raised in a previous Veterans Day ceremony on campus. The UMass Lowell Marching Band played the National Anthem as the flag was raised.
Annual Appreciation Luncheon held for student veterans
Following the flag-raising, the University held its annual Appreciation Luncheon for student veterans, hosted by the Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by Charlotte Mandell, vice provost for undergraduate education.
Speakers included Dean of Student Affairs Laurence Siegel; Imogene Stulken, Protestant campus minister and faculty adviser to the SVO; and Boyd.
Boyd recognized the previous SVO presidents—Michael Peeples and Theodore Serozynsky—for their leadership, and current SVO officers Christian Elwood, Daniel Hunt and Kevin Panneton.