UNCW Salutes Veterans, Honors Military History

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

By honoring veterans, UNCW has stayed true to its roots.

J. Marshall Crews wrote in his book From These Beginnings, “On September 4, 1947, at 4 p.m., Wilmington College, with seventeen faculty members, opened the doors to 238 students, seventy-five percent of whom were veterans.” During his 33-year career at Wilmington College and UNCW, Crews was a professor of mathematics and served as university registrar, academic dean, director of admissions and dean of students.

As Wilmington College grew into the University of North Carolina Wilmington, its support of military-affiliated students remained one of the institution’s founding values.

Although UNCW honors “Seahawks who serve” and other active-duty and veteran members of the armed services year-round, many special events have been planned around Veterans Day.

In addition to the annual Veterans Day ceremony on the University Commons, this month UNCW has hosted the exhibit “Invisible Wounds of War;” a preview of “Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History;” by Emmy Award winner Ric Burns as well a talk by Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, a Medal of Honor recipient. 

On Tuesday morning, Petry had breakfast with military-affiliated students at UNCW. Afterward, the group toured the campus Military Resource Lounge before walking to Randall Library to view the “Invisible Wounds of War” exhibit.

“It is my hope that the ‘Invisible Wounds of War’ exhibit inspires viewers to extend understanding and compassion to our veterans not just on Veterans Day, but on every day of the year,” said counselor and project co-director Jen Johnson. “The project participants have done a beautiful job of creating a clear picture of their invisible wounds with writing and photography and transforming the veterans’ narrative to one that ends with hope.” Hear Johnson’s remarks at the exhibit’s opening reception held on Nov. 5.

On Nov. 13, the UNCW Women’s Studies and Resource Center and the"Invisible Wounds of War” project are co-sponsoring a talk by UNCW M.F.A. graduate Kirsten Holmstedt. She will read from her soon-to-be-released book Soul Survivors: Women in Combat in the Fisher University Union. 

On Dec. 1, the UNCW Staff Senate is hosting “Holiday Cards for Heroes.” Multiple stations will be set up around campus for faculty, staff and students to design a holiday card or write a note to area servicemen and women. Senate members will then deliver the cards to local bases.

The Military Resource Lounge, which officially opened in August, is one of the designated card stations. Care packages for troops are also being collected in the lounge from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

UNCW was recently designated as a “Top School” in the 2016 Military Advanced Education & Transition (MAE&T) Guide to Colleges & Universities research study. The guide measures best practices in military and veteran education enacted at more than 600 institutions from community colleges to nationally known centers for higher education.

In September, UNCW made U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 “Best Colleges for Veterans” list, coming in at number 14 among all universities in the south, and fourth among the public universities on the list. G.I. Jobs and Military Times have also recognized UNCW for its military friendliness.

-- Caroline Cropp