GV celebrates Veterans Day

GVL/Brianna Olson
Simeon Switzer (second from the right); acting leader of this group of veterans.

GVL/Brianna Olson Simeon Switzer (second from the right); acting leader of this group of veterans.

Allison Ribick

Grand Valley State University Athletics and WGVU Engage teamed up to put on the second annual Heroes Day at the Kelly Family Sports Center on GVSU’s Allendale Campus on Saturday, Nov. 8. Veterans and first responders were celebrated at the event.

The movie “Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story” played on a big screen throughout the event, with voices of veterans recalling their experiences echoing throughout the building. It will be shown again by WGVU on Nov. 11 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The LZ Michigan Vietnam Big Map was also on display for veterans or their family members to write down when and where they were stationed in the Vietnam War. Names, dates and information specific to their deployment covered the map of the country. Some “RIPs” were etched into it, along with comments of never forgetting veteran’s sacrifices.

A missing man ceremony was held to remember prisoners of war. The symbolic presentation included a table setting with flowers, a candle, a Bible, an American flag and an empty chair.

Heroes Day also had a wide array of family-friendly activities such as games, characters from PBS Kids and performances from the GVSU dance team, marching band and cheer team.

Another Veterans Day event GVSU will be hosting is the unveiling of a sculpture of a soldier and Grand Rapids native who was killed in the Vietnam War. The soldier, Dennis Lobbezoo, made an impact on Edward Byrd, who was a medical officer in Vietnam. After retiring and studying art, Byrd created a sculpture that would not only represent Lobbezoo, but all veterans.

A Veterans Day Breakfast will take place on Nov. 11 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at GVSU’s Pew Campus in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Center. A Sculpture Dedication is a part of this program, taking place at 8:30 a.m. in the Steelcase Library lobby in Building A, Room 104.

The sculpture’s permanent home will be in the lobby outside of the Steelcase Library in the DeVos Center.

The Heroes Day event also provided individuals with information regarding organizations available to help veterans and their families. Tables were set up around the building for people to navigate through.

Representatives from the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center were there to inform people of the resources they offer such as support groups and couple’s therapy. Also, they provided information regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms and treatment.

In addition, information on resources for returned service members in Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and New Dawn (OND) was available at the event, which was part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Also present were volunteers from Operation Homefront, which supports families of service members and wounded warriors through morale programs, emergency assistance and housing.

“We give financial assistance like repairing homes – or even something as simple as getting your car fixed,” said Mike Carpenter, a volunteer for the organization.

During the holiday season, it has programs such as Holiday Meals for Military and a holiday toy drive.

GVSU’s Student Veterans of America was also at the event. The group offers monthly meetings for students to discuss veteran resources, and it helps them navigate the Veterans Affairs system in order to get benefits to come to school full-time.

“We also help veterans make friends,” said Ben Young, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a GVSU business student. “It’s often hard adjusting back to civilian life when you’ve been with a group of people for so long.”

Army Strong Community Center, Buddy to Buddy, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and Goodwill were some of the other organizations in attendance.

[email protected]