Students celebrate Veterans Day

By Jenny Hudak

Students celebrate Veterans Day

By Jenny Hudak
As Veterans Day approaches, the Veteran Students Organization prepares to host a week of events honoring members of the University community who served their country.

By the end of his first semester, Zachary Danney wasn’t sure he was ready to return to school. A difficult transition to college as a veteran student left him feeling disconnected and discouraged. That was until he discovered the University of Miami’s Veteran Students Organization (VSO). 

“The transition from military to civilian life, in general, is very difficult for anyone and I felt that. It wasn’t until I found the VSO that I felt like I wanted to stay in school,” said Danney, a second-year student studying human resources management, and secretary of the Veteran Students Organization. “The people in the VSO were so great, it finally gave me so much more out of college than I expected.”  

The Veteran Students Organization’s mission is to educate and enhance the experience of military-connected students on campus and in the University community. Danney emphasized that while many believe that the VSO exists exclusively for veteran students, the organization strives to connect with everyone and anyone looking to get involved. 

 “We really are like a huge, supportive community. We don’t exist just for veterans, we’re here for students in the ROTC, people with military family and friends, really anyone at UM that wants to show appreciation for our community,” Danney said.  

For Montgomery Nicholas, a former Marine Corps sergeant, the VSO shaped his smooth transition to the University “in every aspect.” A second-year student studying business management, Montgomery attributes his success as a student to the support the VSO provided him. 

“When you go into the [VSO] lounge, you know can connect with people who understand and may be going through the same things that you’re going through,” he said. “It’s a place that’s been supportive in helping me figure out how to navigate simple things and making sure I’m doing the right things to be successful here, just like I will for the next set of incoming veterans.” 

As Veterans Day approaches, the VSO has planned a series of events, virtually and in-person, to honor veterans in the community, connect students with veteran resources on campus, and educate people on the unique challenges their community faces. Following last year’s massively successful Veterans Week, the VSO executive board knew they had to keep the momentum going. Wesley "Jack" Miller, the Veteran Students Organization advisor and veteran, says the VSO leaders have overcome challenges to pull off this year's programming. 

“Working with and being able to understand the challenges that some of these veteran students have, I think I'm in a very fortunate position to help them when they need it,” Miller said. "And, they're just awesome. I enjoy being around the students and see them do this great work. Our top priority this year is safety, so we've had to modify plans; some in-person and others virtually."

The students coordinated a series of events throughout the week, including info sessions, resource panels, and a keynote address with retired United States Marine Corps Sergeant Major, entrepreneur and philanthropist Mario Fields. 

“Building this community and supporting each other is the most important thing for us moving forward. Hosting these events to connect to the community, especially the week of Veterans Day, really is what the VSO is here for, ” Danney added. 

Here is a list of the VSO’s upcoming events to celebrate Veterans Day:

  • Nov. 10: Veteran Student Resource Panel at 7 p.m.  
  • Nov. 11: Keynote Speaker: Mario Fields at 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 13: The Impact of Deportation on the Veteran Community at noon 
  • Nov. 20: Movie Night at 6 p.m. on the Foote Green 

For more information on veteran student resources on campus, visit the Dean of Students Office’s Veterans Student Services site.