November 14, 2023

First Veteran’s Day Event Since 2019 Helps to Build Community, Honor Spartan Veterans

The Michigan State University Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC) hosted a fantastic Veterans Day Brunch on Nov. 8. Near capacity with a great number of veterans and MSU community members in attendance, the event was hosted for the first time since before the pandemic began.

“The brunch went really well! We were shaking off some rust having not done this since 2019, but I would definitely consider it a success,” said Patrick Forystek, SVRC director.

About 100 attendees enjoyed the event at the Kellogg Center, intended to recognize the service of veterans connected to Michigan State University. This includes students, employees and their family members. Increased visibility of and for military-affiliated Spartans is important, and the SVRC is a helpful resource for veterans.

The MSU Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter is important too. Andrew Branam-Drock, president of MSU SVA, was in attendance.

“The event was great. It was nice to meet several staff/faculty members who are also veterans and to see the support from such a wide range of areas across the university,” he said.

The SVA has two goals, according to Branam-Drock: to build a sense of community and to support veterans in graduating from the university.

“Many of us started from scratch when we came here. It’s nice to have a built-in group to allow student veterans not to feel alone,” he added. “Representation matters, and we want to have these organizations around to support veterans year-round, not only at specific times of year.”

Helping to build continuous community and support were precisely some of the goals for the event. In celebrating Veterans Day, it also serves as a poignant reminder of the courage, dedication and resilience of those who have served in the armed forces — a message that resonated across the room and was heard throughout remarks.

The event featured a speech by University Advising Senior Specialist and student Marine Corps veteran Charlie Liu. Delivering a powerful and precise seven minutes (he counted) of remarks, Liu offered a series of incredibly touching and vulnerable anecdotes about his experience joining the military. In addition, Liu discussed how he took core principles of his military service and continues to use them to serve those around him.

Dr. Genyne Royal, assistant vice president for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging — the umbrella department for which the SVRC falls under — offered closing remarks, highlighting the importance of veterans to the diversity of MSU’s community and speaking to the important contributions to MSU made by members such as Liu.

The contributions and connections to MSU are lengthy.

“MSU has a long history of supporting military veterans, and much of our growth as an institution can be attributed to the creation of the GI Bill in 1944,” said Forystek. “While our campus has changed dramatically since 1944, an event like this gives us a chance to recognize how our student veterans and our military-connected employees have affected the trajectory of MSU.”

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