USF kicks off Veterans Week


Before Veteran’s Day next Monday, the USF community took time Tuesday to honor local veterans for the beginning of this year’s annual Veterans Week.

Keynote speaker Mike Prendergast, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, joined the USF Office of Veterans Services, as well as about 100 people at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater to honor student veterans during USF’s fourth annual Veterans Week.

“It’s really important for our veterans because they sacrifice their lives, and it’s easy to think that people forgot,” director of Veterans Services Larry Braue said. “When you have events like this, it shows that we haven’t forgotten and we still appreciate it.”

This year’s theme for Veterans Week is “We’ve Got Your 6,” since USF partnered with the national “Got Your 6” campaign last spring.

“Got Your 6” is a student veterans’ success network, created to provide opportunities for student veterans, and teaches faculty, staff and administrators how to assist them in academic success on campus.

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Miller ended his introductory remarks by mentioning the Military Times magazine recognized USF as the fourth best college in the nation for veterans.

Prendergast spoke of the recent successes of veterans within Florida and the Tampa Bay community, and encouraged the audience to become part of those notable statistics.

“Having been born and raised in the Tampa Bay area and being a fifth generation native of this great community, I think they got their math wrong,” Prendergast said. “The University of South Florida, in my opinion, is No. 1 for student veterans.”

At the end of Prendergast’s speech, veterans were asked to stand and were recognized for their effort and commitment to the nation and its military.

“There were the elderly veterans, but there were also a lot of students and it was good to see that we have pride in our school and the services they give on campus,” Chelsey Abrego, a senior majoring in criminology and psychology, said.

Tthe event ended with cake and refreshments, where students networked with military leaders in the community.

“In closing, I would like that you remember this,” Prendergast said. “A veteran is a person who at some point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the U.S., by swearing an oath to the constitution, and that blank was made payable for any amount up to including his or her life, so that freedom can endure and that all Americans can enjoy liberty.”

Other events from several different organizations will be held throughout the week, including a chili cook-off today from noon to 2 p.m., and the veteran and military appreciation football game against the University of Memphis on
Nov. 16.