Mizzou Veterans Week aims to honor and celebrate

Events will include a wreath laying ceremony and parade.
MU students were invited to visit the Military Resource Fair on Monday afternoon in Stotler Lounge. The event gave dozens of military-related organizations a chance to talk with students and share information about their groups.

MU's sixth annual Veterans Week started off Sunday with a bang — literally.

The pistol fire signaling the start of the Wounded Warrior Run launched this year’s nine-day Mizzou Veterans Week. More than 125 participants ran to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that helps injured service members transition from active duty to civilian life, said Travis McCartney, vice president of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association.

“A big purpose (of Veterans Week) is to raise awareness on campus of student veterans and veterans in general," McCartney said. "There’s a large populace that doesn’t know how many are on campus and in Columbia."

Monday's events, which included a military resource fair and blood drive, helped create that student awareness, McCartney said.

The fair featured booths from various community organizations. Most of these groups, such as the Missouri Veterans Commission and the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, aim to aid veterans with everyday life after their time of service.

“Being in the military reserves, I needed to look at job resources,” said Travis Noyes, sophomore student veteran and ROTC member. “(It’s about) knowing what is entitled to you so you can’t be taken advantage of.”

A few tables had both a student and veteran focus. The Craft Studio offered supplies and space to create patriotic thank-you cards. These handmade messages will be delivered and distributed on Veterans Day at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, McCartney said. The blood drive was also held in conjunction with the resource fair.

The Mizzou Veterans Week Banquet concluded Monday’s festivities. Community and campus veterans were invited to enjoy a meal cooked by Leslie Jett, the executive chef and an assistant teaching professor in the hospitality management department and a member of the Navy Reserve, McCartney said.

“Another part of it (Veterans Week) is to just celebrate with veterans," McCartney said. "We’ve got several events for them.”

On Wednesday, speaker and Navy SEAL Rorke Denver from “Act of Valor” will talk about former special forces missions, according to an event flyer. A meet and greet reception will follow the talk that begins at 7:30 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium.

“We’re trying to get (Jesse Auditorium) filled like last year,” McCartney said.

A wreath laying ceremony will be held at noon Friday. The commemorative event at Memorial Tower will include a guest speaker and the annual laying of the wreath tradition, according an event flyer.

Saturday features the Mizzou Joint ROTC Veterans Day Vigil, in which volunteer cadets and midshipmen from all ROTC units at Mizzou will take part in a vigil in front of the courthouse. The ceremony begins at 11:11 a.m. and will continue hourly through 11:11 a.m. Sunday.

The Marine Corps birthday celebration invites veterans and their guests to join the Mizzou Student Veterans Association and Marine Corps League on Saturday in celebrating the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps, according to the flyer. This is a formal event, and pre-registration is required.

One of the week’s highlights, the Mizzou Joint ROTC Annual Veteran’s Day Parade, bridges the gap between student and veteran events. The parade, which will begin at 10:20 a.m., is bigger this year due to an increase in community involvement, McCartney said. He encourages students to line up on Eighth Street during the parade because crowds usually are small for the event.

“(Veterans) are a very important part of our country, and when there’s stuff like this, you’ve got to come out and support them,” junior Hasani Henderson said.

Veterans Week will conclude Monday with National Roll Call in front of Memorial Union. This special Veterans Day ceremony recognizes the Missourians who were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan and closes with a moment of silence, according to the flier.

“It’s a group of people that have given a lot for their community and things," McCartney said. "It’s a way to show your respect and give back. They protect the country. They’ve been there. They’ve helped secure freedom. I feel it’s extremely important to say thank you."

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