Winona State celebrates Veterans Day


Ali Johnston

Flags lined the grass outside Kryzsko Commons last week for the “Salute to Service” events sponsored by the veterans club in honor of students and community members who have served in the armed forces.

Morghan Lemmenes, Features Editor

Veterans are recognized throughout the week

Winona State University honored veterans and active members of the military last week during Salute to Service Week in honor of Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11.

The events on campus were hosted by Winona State’s Veterans Affairs Office and Veterans Club, according to club president Tiffany Clark.

Clark, a senior business administration and human resource management major, was in the United States Air Force for eight years before coming to Winona State.

“I wanted to make an impact on campus and create awareness of the military personnel that we have currently and also our deployed members by recognizing and giving thanks to those who have served and are currently serving,” Clark said.

Clark said in the past, soldiers coming home from the Vietnam War were spit on and not appreciated. Now, Vietnam veterans are trying to be recognized for their service, especially since many were drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War, rather than voluntarily enlisted.

“A lot of people don’t understand the sacrifices that only less than one percent of people actually are volunteering their service for our freedom and just having that recognition is really important,” Clark said. “I think the faculty and students know that we are here, but they don’t know that much about us.”

To honor military veterans, the Veterans Affairs Office and Veterans Club hosted a week of events.

On Monday, Nov. 6, a flag ceremony recognized the 200 Winona State students currently enrolled or deployed and provided additional flags for people to support their troops, family members and significant others.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7 and Wednesday, Nov. 8, students held a bake sale with many baked goods made by veterans, as well as their family members and friends. There was also an open house Tuesday evening at the Veterans’ Sustainability House in order to showcase its community center for veterans and a presentation and book signing from Vietnam War veteran Jim Crigler.

“He had a great presentation, did a book signing and was interactive with the community and talking about the Vietnam War and what his contributions were with the gold star families and recognizing what a gold star family is,” Clark said.

Left to right: sophmore Ruby Schlegel, junior Katie Rae Lemonek, sophmore Carl Mastenbrook and junior Nick Buban at the Salute to Service table in Kryzsko Commons last Tuesday. The week long event was held in honor of students and community members currently serving in the armed forces.

Clark explained a gold star family is one that who had a member of their family killed in action or killed while in service.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the club tailgated at the Warrior Game Day Experience, which included Army recruiters, the Color Guard and a Humvee.

“At the actual football game, we had a coin ceremony where we [recognized] military members. For the half time show there was a mini challenge in honor of Derek Bute who was hit by a train when he was studying at Winona State,” Clark said.

At the game, there was also a special Prisoner of War/Missing in Action chair, which sits empty in remembrance of those taken as prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Basic training for new military members has increased due to an increase in natural disasters and other pressing issues. Because of this, Clark said students who are currently active in the National Guard and Reserve have to take time away from classes, though faculty members are not as understanding.

“Sometimes faculty members and students expect a cookie cutter type of student who is fresh out of high school and we are not the typical student,” Clark said. “I served in active duty for 8 years and I transferred into going back school and I found a hard time finding myself being able to communicate with others on campus. It’s trying to bridge those gaps and having people acknowledge that we are people too, we just have experienced different things than what a typical college student has.”

Holden Brandon, a political science major who handles public relations for the Veterans Club, shared what can happen to some of those veterans who have returned to school.

“We could be gone for weeks at a time and professors don’t understand that or some could be missing classes because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related issues,” Brandon said.

“There is a miscommunication with professors on how they should be handling it.”

Brandon, said more communication is an important aspect of raising awareness for veterans.

“There is also an aspect of the lack of communication within the veteran community and with the campus as a whole,” Brandon said. “I think recognition and these events will help extend our branches and help communicate. It will allow us to create a bond in the community.”

Brandon is a member of the Army Reserves, as well as a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Brandon also discussed what he hopes people would take away from the week’s events.

“I would like people to recognize that we do have 200 vets on campus and we do have a veteran house and people have walked past that house and have no idea what it is. I think it should be put under a spotlight for the week and hopefully make a significant amount of change for that communication to be there,” Brandon said.

Clark said she also hoped that Winona State students and faculty have gained some more insight into the lives of veterans and active duty students.

“We were hoping that this would create communication and understanding that they are making that sacrifice and if the government tells you to do something, you have a government contract to do that,” Clark said. “The obligation is more to serve your country than it is to your schooling. That communication with the professors, creating that bond of communication and recognizing that we are making sacrifices and we are not putting it off.”