Temple celebrates Veterans Appreciation Week

The Military and Veteran Services Center held five events honoring veterans and military-connected students from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11.

President Wingard brings Cadet Johnston from Temple ROTC on stage to ask about why he chose Temple University during the Veterans Luncheon in the Student Center on Nov. 10. | RJ FRANCESCHINI / TEMPLE NEWS

As a military veteran and Temple University alumna, Kristie Furiosi wanted to ensure the university made veterans feel supported and connected to the university community.

“Everything that we’re doing for veterans is absolutely crucial to support their transition, to make them feel welcomed and to make sure that their benefits are being processed in a timely manner,” said Furiosi, a 2017 organizational leadership alumna and assistant director of the military and veteran services who served as an army medical officer from 2017 to 2021.

Temple University’s Military and Veteran Service Center hosted events for Veterans Appreciation Week from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11 to celebrate staff, students and faculty who previously served or are currently serving in the military and to answer their questions about military benefits.

A 5k run and one-mile walk around campus were scheduled for Nov. 12, but the event was moved to May 30, 2022 because of poor weather conditions.

To plan the week, the Military and Veteran Service Center worked with the Temple Veterans Association, a student organization helping military-affiliated students connect with each other, said Debra Powell-Wright, veteran student services administrator.

There are more than 1,700 military-connected students — those who are student veterans, military service members or the child or spouse of a military service member — at Temple, according to Temple’s Military and Veteran Service Center.

Ivan Thomas, believes it’s important to celebrate student veterans because they often feel overlooked due to their status as non-traditional students and might be older than others at the university, he said.

“The primary reason that it’s important to have these events is to show veterans that they’re thought about, and that they’re on the forefront of people’s minds,” said Thomas, a senior finance major and president of TVA. “Even if it’s just for a month, even if it’s just for a week, even if it’s just for an event.” 

Thomas served active duty in the Army from 2010 to 2020, and is now serving his second year for the National Guard, he said.

“That little bit of appreciation and recognition can go a long way to someone who might not be feeling that their service really meant as much as it does to the community, to the school, to the country,” Thomas said.

From Nov. 8 to Nov 10, the Military and Veteran Services Center held an open house and resource fair in Conwell Hall, which is named after Temple’s founder and Civil War veteran Russell Conwell. At the event, representatives from the center informed student veterans about resources available to them, while TVA’s executive board gave out special prizes and snacks. 

On Nov. 8 and 9, The Military and Veteran Services Center and the Career Center hosted a LinkedIn Headshot workshop at Mitten Hall for military-connected students to get their professional headshots taken.

Hung Nguyen, a senior mechanical engineering major who served in the Navy from 2015-19, heard about the event through an email and thought it would be a good way to network, he said.

“I think that this will be a good event for me to get my picture so I can improve my profile on LinkedIn and maybe meet more people like me,” Nguyen said. 

The week concluded on Nov. 11 with a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Howard Gittis Student Center that included a color guard where a group of four cadets marched and presented the U.S. and Air Force flags. The event also featured music from students in the Boyer College of Music and Dance, a speech from Temple President Jason Wingard and a luncheon. Tickets were also handed out to attendees for Temple’s Nov. 12 football game against the University of Houston.

Andrei Sheller, who served in the Marine Corps from 2016-20 and has been a reserve in the Corps since December, attended the ceremony to get together with other student veterans. He hopes there will be more ceremonies like it in the future, he said.

“It feels great, we have music, we’ve got veterans from the past here, we got current people that are serving, we’ve got ROTC, we just have everyone,” said Sheller, a sophomore business management major and member of TVA. “Everyone’s happy, everyone’s having a good time.”

Sherman Diggs Jr., 61, who served in the Marine Corps from 1981-85 and began working at Temple 35 years ago in facilities management and trucking also attended the event. 

After attending the event, Diggs Jr. felt appreciated for his service, he said.

“I feel like everything I’ve done and the sleepless nights, concerned about what’s going to happen the next day, hasn’t been in vain,” Diggs Jr. said.

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