The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Military and Veterans Resource Center holds “Virtually Hug a GI Week”

GVL | Macayla Cramer

The Grand Valley State University Peter Secchia Military and Veterans Resource Center (PSMVRC) held its first “Virtually Hug a GI Week” from March 25 through March 30. 

20 yard signs were scattered around campus with the photos and names of faculty, staff and students connected to the military. The signs each had QR codes that community members could scan, leading them to a website where they could leave anonymous messages of support to those in the GVSU community who have served.

The aim for the week was for the GVSU community to rally behind student veterans and other military affiliated students, faculty and staff, and show them support on campus.

At the end of the week, the resource center displayed all of the anonymous messages on their website for anyone to view. 

Student Courtney Mais, whose picture and name was displayed on one of the yard signs, joined the Navy after graduating high school, from November 2014 to February 2019. During her experience in the Navy, she traveled to numerous countries around the world including Japan, China, Guam, Australia and more. To her, this week was all about showing appreciation to her fellow service members. 

“Virtually Hug a GI Week is a unique opportunity for our campus community to come together in support and recognition of the military members among us,” Mais said. “The idea is to express our gratitude and appreciation through digital means, acknowledging the sacrifices and dedication of our veterans.” 

Shane Scherer, director of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, said the idea first came about in January when a student suggested holding an event for Hug a GI Day. National Hug a GI Day annually takes place on March 4. Physical hugs are not only given to those who serve, but many take to social media to send their gratitude to service members. 

Scherer collected the pictures and names of those willing to participate in Virtually Hug a GI Week and started designing the yard signs. However, Scherer expressed that he was nervous the event would not turn out as he had hoped. 

“It was a slow start, (but the messages) started trickling in,” Scherer said.

As the week passed, he said the number of messages collected from the yard signs exceeded his expectations. 

“My goal was 50, 10 a day. We have more (than that) and they’re all positive, which is fantastic. Nobody used it as a platform for hate speech or to be negative,” Scherer said. “It’s a refreshing, friendly reminder that there are people on campus, whether it’s faculty, staff, students, that people served and are continuing to serve in the military, and don’t forget they’re here.” 

Scherer is planning to bring back and grow the event next year. He also plans to include the option for students to send messages with their names attached or anonymously.

Mais said events like this help show support to those on campus that have or currently do serve. 

“(The event) allows students to recognize the sacrifices the people around them have made for them to be here today,” Mais said. “This event not only fosters a sense of camaraderie among our military community, but also helps raise awareness about the experiences of our veterans.” 

Mais said Virtually Hug a GI Week not only showed gratitude to those who serve, but highlighted women in the military. 

“By participating, I am contributing to building a supportive and inclusive environment for all. Also, while showing the importance of being a successful woman in and out of the military,” Mais said. “I think this means a sense of involvement and belonging for fellow veterans. It also shows a sense of appreciation for the sacrifices that we made for our country.”

More to Discover