Campus events strive to connect veterans, students


Veterans affairs office staff aim to support veterans and active duty students through Veterans Day events. (Photo courtesy of AJ Cunha)

Erinn Finley, Staff Writer

Veterans Affairs prepares for Veterans Day celebrations around campus, including a luncheon and a flag placement ceremony.

AJ Cunha, the coordinator of Veterans Affairs, said three projects are planned to recognize veterans around the campus.

Military-connected students, staff or faculty are invited to participate in a flag placement ceremony on Monday, Nov. 7. Cunha said small American flags will be placed in the mulched areas beside the walkway near the Blackburn Science Building.

“That’s just kind of a way to bring some attention,” Cunha said. ”Hopefully people will notice the flags and then realize, ‘Oh, maybe Veterans Day is coming up.’”

Cunha said they plan to host a free luncheon in the VA lounge. This lunch is an informal way for veterans and military-connected people from around campus to get together.

“They [the veterans] just want to enjoy a meal together with their fellow comrades in their lounge and then just, you know, kind of share about their service in their own way,” Cunha said.

The third way the VA staff will be recognizing Veterans Day is by releasing a video on Nov. 11, which will include clips from the flag placement ceremony and the luncheon.

Cunha said some of these community events include a quilt, which some women of the community made to give to a veteran, they selected. A Veterans Day parade is set for Saturday, Nov. 12.

Cunha said he is expecting approximately 60 people to attend the luncheon. The group is made up of veterans, military dependents who supported a veteran during service and some University leaders, he said.

Celebrating Veterans Day on campus shows students why service is important, Cunha said.

“I think it’s a great way to show the younger students that service matters and that freedom is not given, it’s earned,” he said. “There’s people that serve in uniform that provide the freedom we have every day.”

Murray State is ranked in the top 10 across the nation for a military friendly school, Cunha says.

“I think that’s a huge achievement in the higher education realm, of all the colleges across the nation, we’re the top 10,” Cunha said. “I think that we’re building on that to even provide more, especially to the veterans and military-connected students that come on campus.”

The VA staff supports students in a variety of ways. They provide assistance to veterans and active duty students in applying for their educational VA benefits. Cunha said they also assist those in the National Guard using the Kentucky National Guard scholarship.

The office has a VA lounge with snacks to give students a place to spend time and hang out with others outside of their dorms. The office also provides one free lunch a month.

Cunha said he conducts conflict resolution between veterans and professors if they are having trouble in their classes. He also started teaching a class called The Green Zone, which is a new course on campus. Cunha said Green Zone symbols will be put up outside of offices and classrooms around campus. Cunha said the symbol means that a faculty or staff member attended the course, which teaches about some of the hurdles veterans face that other students typically do not.

“I teach that class, and my original goal in the summertime was five students or faculty or professors or staff members,” Cunha said. “As of last week, we just crossed over 100, so we’ve taught the class four times, and it’s been very well attended.”

Cunha said if students want to get involved with VA, the best way is to visit their office in Room 456 in the Blackburn Science Building. The phone number for the VA office is 270-809-5345 and their email is [email protected].