ROTC students take down the American flag and the Prisoner of War flag on the South mall Monday afternoon. Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff
Student members of UT’s ROTC programs stood in formation as the flag raised over South Mall during a Veterans Day ceremony Monday.
The ceremony was a joint effort between the Texas Army, Navy and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in order to pay tribute to the men and women that served in the United States Armed Forces.
“It’s important to pay attention to a sacrifice someone has made for you,“ Stephen Ollar, president of the Student Veteran Association and economics senior, said.
He said being a veteran is something to be proud of. He served in the Army before attending UT and, through the association, tries to make life as students easier for veterans at UT.
“We try to help veterans find friends, find a source of communication, something that can help them from going into some of the pitfalls of being a veteran: the isolation, the loneliness, the suicide that can come with being a veteran,” Ollar said.
He said it is a common misconception that all veterans suffer from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or other post-service disorders. He said it is easier to relate with people that have been through similar experiences.
Benjamin Armstrong, coordinator of Student Veteran Services, served as a Marine and said he has worked with 1,947 of UT’s student veterans through the Student Veteran Services office. Student Veteran Services opened on Veterans Day 2011 and celebrated its first anniversary Sunday.
“We are a one-stop shop on campus for veterans and their dependents to access this institution and understand how it works,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said he is a natural fit for his position, because as a veteran he can connect with student veterans and help them get all the benefits for which they are eligible.
“I give them the lay of the land and a safe haven. The Student Veteran Association gives them that group of fellow travelers to be social with,” Armstrong said.
Lee Leffingwell, Austin mayor and Navy veteran, spoke at the ceremony about his experience during Aviation Officer Training School. He said 40 years later, he still remembers two of his sergeant instructors, who died in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. He said the lessons they taught him transferred from active duty into his life as a veteran.
“For my years of experience as mayor and retired Navy commander, I believe that the values you develop and will continue to develop will continue through aspects of your life,” Leffingwell said.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Kopser, commanding officer of Texas Army ROTC, said it is thrilling to watch young students choose a life of service in the Armed Forces when they join one of UT’s ROTC programs.
“It is a huge honor to watch young people raise their right hand to join the United States Armed Forces during a time of war and take an oath to preserve the United States,” Kopser said.
Printed on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 as: Time of appreciation