VCU plans appreciation week in honor of student veterans

Illustration by Mark Jefferies

Jessica Dahlberg
Contributing Writer

Illustration by Mark Jefferies

Erik Fast, part of VCU’s Student Veteran Association spent 10 years in the Navy, serving in both Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

This year, his time serving in the military will be honored along with other student veterans through VCU’s Military Services Appreciation Week.

The Student Veterans Association, Omega Delta Sigma and Eta Lamda Sigma fraternities – in collaboration with the Military Student Services Office – worked together to schedule the first-ever week-long celebration of veterans at VCU.

Fast said he believes the purpose of Military Services Appreciation Week is to “honor veterans in general and to honor the people who have made the sacrifices for the freedoms we all share.”

The idea for Military Services Appreciation Week started with Dr. Reuban Rodriguez, associate vice provost and dean of student affairs, reading the book “Unbroken.”

The book highlights the life of Louis Zamperini, a World War II prisoner of war survivor and Olympic distance runner. Rodriguez proposed the idea of having Zamperini come to VCU for a Veterans Day celebration.

The student organizations took the concept and ran with it.

The student organizations cooperated with Tom Waterworth, who works for VCU Military Student Services, in preparing the paperwork to submit a petition for a grant to the Student Government Association’s Special Grants Committee.

SGA Chairman Joel McNamara accepted their proposal.

“The SGA gave us enough money to fund … events all week long,” said Fast.

However, since the money was originally intended for Thursday’s event honoring Zamperini, the student organizations had to ask that the money granted to them be extended to include other events.

“Joel performed his duties fervently. He helped guide us through the process of getting the grant and extending the grant to the rest of the week,” said Fast.

All the events during the week are leading up to the culminating event on Friday morning: the National Roll Call from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Commons.

“People, primarily faculty and staff, will be reading the names of those who have passed (in OIF and OEF wars) for 15 minutes each,” said Martha L. Green, special assistant to the provost for Military Student Affairs.

According to Fast, VCU is the largest school in the state participating in the event.

At 8 a.m., before the National Roll Call, members of the Student Veterans Association and Active Minds student groups will be planting flags outside Harris Hall in honor of the veterans who have passed.

Fast said about 6,400 flags will be planted in honor of veterans who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

A lot of hard work and planning has gone into Military Services Appreciation Week. Fast said it took about three months of planning to put this week into action.

“It hasn’t seemed like a tremendous amount of work because our students have been so wonderful in their cooperative ventures with us,” Green said.


For more information about Military Services Appreciation week at VCU, visit

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