GVSU Student Veterans of America to hold military cultural event

GVL / Luke Holmes -  The Student Veterans gala was held in the Alumni House on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

GVL / Luke Holmes – The Student Veterans gala was held in the Alumni House on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Sarah Hollis

According to the latest U.S. census, 700,000 veterans live in the state of Michigan. This means that it’s very likely that a Grand Valley State University student will run into a veteran at some point in their life. 

To help spread awareness of military culture, the GVSU Student Veterans will be hosting a Veterans Day Military Cultural Awareness event Friday, Nov. 10. The event will be taking place in the Kirkhof Center, Room 2215/2216, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free lunch will be provided as well.

“It’s a nice thing to do annually because of the fact that there is that constant inflow and outflow of students,” said Kyle Brooke, Marine Corps veteran and communications officer for the Student Veterans of America (SVA) GVSU chapter. “There’s always new students; there’s always students leaving and finishing up their degrees or just leaving of their own accord, so in order for us to maintain that same level of awareness in the general populace on campus, it is an event that is a good thing to do every year.”

Samantha Rose, Army veteran and GVSU SVA president, said all branches of the military will be represented at the event.

“Our event is designed to share a little bit about military culture from people who are actually in the service,” she said. “We will have all five branches represented at our event. We will have Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. We will have displays for each one as well as displays about female veterans and mental health and suicide risk in veterans and military personnel.”

In addition to valuable information about veterans, there will also be some cultural activities, such as the POW/MIA Table Ceremony and the celebration of the Marine Corps’ birthday. 

“Another aspect of our event is Friday the 10th is actually the Marine Corps’ birthday,” Rose said. “They love to celebrate, so we will be doing a traditional cake-cutting ceremony as well as livestreaming the Marine Corps commander’s birthday message, which he puts out every year on the Marine Corps’ birthday.”  

Brooke said the lifestyle of a student veteran is unique. 

“There are so many student veterans that it is a lifestyle on its own,” Brooke said. “Being a veteran, being in the military, but then also being a student is a weird kind of place because you’ve been working a job for so long and then you come back to an educational setting and it is very counterintuitive.” 

Rose said an understanding of military culture is not fostered in classrooms at GVSU.

“We have so many classes here at Grand Valley about cultural competency, about cultural awareness, whether it’s for different races, different religions, different ethnicities, anything like that, but there is no class on military culture, and it is a very separate and very well-defined culture,” Rose said.  

Those interested in learning more about veterans and military culture but unable to attend this event will have the opportunity to participate in upcoming events put on by SVA.

“Our student veterans group here on campus hosts many different events throughout the year,” Rose said. “A lot of them are aimed at being educational and experiential for the students that don’t have this veteran background, this military background and training.

“Events like this kind of bring it all into focus and help people to understand what it is that we’ve done and will continue doing in the future.”