Remembering Our Veterans on Memorial Day

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Remembering Our Veterans on Memorial Day

BY Craig Garaas-Johnson, News & Features Editor

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a federal holiday that commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. The holiday was first celebrated in Waterloo, NY as a way to honor Union and Confederate soldiers. The original date set for the day of remembrance was May 30, specifically because it did not coincide with the anniversary of any battle in the Civil War. After World War I, memorials were expanded to honor all soldiers.

For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial first day of summer as this is the day when parks and pools open, and retailers do their best to remind of to have a cook out, or get ready for swimsuit season.

For the more than 550 UND students who are also veterans of the U.S. military, Memorial Day is a time for reflection. Many of these students are able to attend school using the G.I. Bill, (officially titled Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944) which provides college or vocational education for returning veterans.

G.I. Bill Facts

You don’t pay taxes on your new GI Bill benefits.

You have 15 years to use your GI Bill benefits, starting from the time of your last discharge or separation from the Armed Forces or Select Reserves.

Since its enactment in 1944, the GI Bill has played a significant role in educating some of our nation’s greatest scholars and leaders. The GI Bill has produced:

  • 14 Nobel Prize winners
  • Three Supreme Court justices
  • Three Presidents of the United States
  • 12 U.S. Senators
  • 24 Pulitzer Prize winners
  • 91,000 scientists

Attending college after spending time in the military can mean making some big adjustments. According to Carol Anson, who serves as the Veterans and Military Advisor with Student Financial Aid, many of the veterans she works with push themselves to develop good habits and establish a routine. "One person remarked to me 'You know I don't even have o get up in the morning. It's not like someone is going to say I'm AWOL (Absent Without Leave)."

For the past two decades, Anson has enjoyed talking to students, helping them navigate through the sometimes frustrating paperwork associated with their benefits. "Talking to students. That's the fun part for me," she says.

"I’ve been to many colleges and I can say Carol is as good as it gets," says James Beck, the Site Coordinator for the Veterans Upward Bound, a program that helps veterans make the adjustment from military to college life. “We’re a free tutoring service for veterans that want to go back to college. We help with [veteran student’s] G.I. Bill and tuition issues.”Beck, who works with veterans and others at UND, says Upward Bound is designed to contribute to the overall friendly atmosphere at UND and NDSU, where he's employed.

In addition to tutoring available through the Upward Bound program, Charles Pegg sees other opportunities to support veterans with his group the Military Association of College Volunteers, or MACV. According to the group's site, their mission is to support "those who are and were once associated with the Armed Forces of the United States of America in their quest of academic excellence while attending the University of North Dakota."

"We're trying to get anybody whose been a part of the military in any way shape or form involved," says Pegg. The group's goal is to help facilitate veterans' experience with the campus environment. "We're trying to help students help themselves."

Programs like these are designed to empower students, and though their goals are ambitious, it is difficult to argue that our returning veterans deserve any less.Here's wishing all of you a happy and healthy Memorial Day.

To learn more about support for veterans at UND, talk to Carol Anson.

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