- Published on Thursday, 07 November 2013 18:55
By Daniel Perez
UTEP News Service
Special activities are planned to honor and salute UTEP students and family members who are affiliated with the U.S. military during Veterans Appreciation Week at different venues around The University of Texas at El Paso.
The schedule includes exhibits of memorabilia and the placement of more than 500 U.S. flags around campus, a performance by a Fort Bliss band, a presentation of a touching military drama, and several opportunities for military-affiliated students to enhance their resumes and job interview skills. The week will conclude with tailgating festivities and free tickets to the Miners’ Nov. 16 football game.
All the attention humbles Victor Medina, a Puerto Rican native who served 18 years in the Army in logistics and transportation. He served one tour in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. It was during his second Iraq tour in 2009 that he suffered a traumatic brain injury from an improvised explosive device. He was a member of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss until he separated from the Army in 2012 to pursue his master’s in rehabilitation counseling at UTEP.
Medina praised the University for organizing the week’s activities and for the work it does to help veterans receive the necessary accommodations to succeed. The graduate student with a 4.0 G.P.A. said he expects to graduate next year and then follow his passion to advocate for others. He made his comments during a break from his clinical practicum at Project Amistad, an El Paso nonprofit organization that assists the elderly and people with disabilities.
“We cannot take our freedoms for granted. As the old saying goes, ‘All gave some, but some gave all.’ No veteran who has gone to war comes back without some emotional scars that they will carry for the rest of their lives,” said Medina, who plans to attend as many events as his schedule will allow. “This is a chance to recognize their selfless service.”
The University, which will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2014, has aligned with the military since its beginning. The first campus was on what is now Army land until an explosion and fire in the main building and a troop increase in anticipation of the Punitive Expedition for Pancho Villa necessitated a move to UTEP’s current location.
The University has almost 200 full- and part-time employees with military backgrounds and more than 1,600 students who are veterans, active duty or family members. UTEP is proud of the military service of its students and employees, said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs. He said Veterans’ Appreciation Week and the services provided through UTEP’s Military Student Success Center are among the ways the University honors and supports veterans and active-duty military.
“It is our hope that the entire campus community can find time to join in one or more of the programs scheduled during the week of Nov. 11. If not, reach out to a member of the military or a veteran and say, ‘Thanks.’ To all of our military students, we appreciate your service and honor your commitment to continuing your education,” Edens said.
The commemoration will begin at 7 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, with the setting of 576 flags on the lawns outside the University Library and the Centennial Museum. Other scheduled activities are as follows:
Monday, Nov. 11
The University Career Center will offer coffee and resume review from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 103 of Union Building West. UTEP’s veteran and active duty students can have in-depth discussions with professional staff to create or enhance their resumes.
Union Services will offer 240 free cupcakes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UTEP’s Union Plaza to people who sign cards that will be sent to active-duty military personnel serving overseas. They also will hand out “Served My Country” pins to the first 100 veterans.
The 1st Armored Division Band will perform from noon to 1 p.m. at UTEP’s Union Plaza. The group will perform cover versions of popular hits from the 1970s through today.
The Veterans Appreciation Exhibition will have an opening reception from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Union Gallery on the second floor of Union Building East. It will include military memorabilia loaned or donated by UTEP student veterans such as uniforms, field gear and pictures. The exhibit will be up through Saturday, Nov. 16.
Tuesday, Nov. 12
A Veterans’ Resource and Networking Fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in UTEP’s El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center. It will involve representatives from UTEP groups and local, state and federal agencies whose job is to support veterans.
Wednesday, Nov. 13
UTEP’s Career Center will conduct a workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the center to help military members transition into the civilian workforce. They will work to tighten resumes, translate military jargon and acronyms, and speak with the veterans and active-duty personnel about interview preparations, including the best ways to showcase their abilities and training, and how to discuss possible disabilities.
“Their attributes are many,” Betsy Castro, the center’s interim director, said about veterans. “They bring experience beyond the classroom. They know about leadership, possess technical skills and have a strong work ethic. Employers love to have them.”
Thursday and Friday, Nov. 14-15
The 2009 HBO film Taking Chance will screen at 7 p.m. in the Union Cinema. The movie stars Kevin Bacon as a Marine officer who escorts home the body of a fellow Marine killed during the Iraq War. People with a military ID can attend for free.
Saturday, Nov. 16