Friday, November 11 gained attention as 11/11/11, but it was also Veterans Day. Nov. 11 became a federal holiday in 1938, then known as Armistice Day. The day was originally meant to observe the end of World War I which occurred November 1918 at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” (http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp).
Today, Veterans Day is meant to recognize and remember all veterans of all wars who have served or are serving the United States of America.
“I was surprised that we had classes on Friday with so many students being veterans,” said senior Nate Walters. Yet the University of Tampa is considered a Military Friendly College.
While classes may have been in session on a national holiday, the University of Tampa Student Veterans Organization helped mark the occasion on campus. Members of SVO handed out yellow ribbons and sold red t-shirts to help bring awareness to veterans everywhere.
“We want to remind people on Veterans Day to give thanks to those that have served, not necessarily us but ones that came before us, and remember why we have the freedoms we do,” said Eddie Hoffman, president of SVO.
Hoffman is a junior majoring in Government and World Affairs at UT. In May 2001, Hoffman decided to join the Marines Corps with a friend. After September 11, 2001, his date to go to boot camp was moved forward and he was deployed for the first time to Iraq for the initial invasion. “I was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device during my ‘05-’06 deployment, and was left with nerve damage in my right knee which left me unable to run and was awarded a Purple Heart Medal,” he said. After nine years of service and three tours of duty, Hoffman retired in February of 2010.
“It is definitely easier to be a student now. I have a sense of priorities and know about time management and study habits. I feel I am better equipped to handle it. My military background has been helpful,” said Sarah Turner, a part-time student and veteran at UT. Turner spent six years in the Air Force and separated in 2005. Her husband is currently on active service stationed out of MacDill Air Force Base here in Tampa. “Being in the military has helped in every aspect. I am more disciplined and I pass that on to my kids,” she said.
Turner described SVO as similar to a fraternity or sorority because no matter where you go there will be family. She said that military service gives you connections all around the world so you can never be too far from home.
Unfortunately, many veterans throughout the country are homeless. As part of the Veterans Day activities, the SVO donated half of all proceeds to Liberty Manor, a home for transitioning veterans. Friday evening they held a dinner on campus and invited 10 veterans from Liberty to attend as well as all veteran students, faculty and staff to help bring a voice to the plight of homeless veterans and the conditions they face when they first get home.