Veterans Day events have highest turnout ever


Liam Turman

The student veteran events provided a space for veteran and non-veteran students to come together.

Sixty-one people, the highest turnout a Veterans Day event has ever had, showed up to the Veterans Day luncheon which celebrated veterans with guest speakers, food and storytellingon Thursday, Nov. 11.  .

This past week, starting Monday, Nov. 8, and ending Saturday, Nov. 13, there have been events every day hosted by the Student Veterans Union to celebrate Veterans Day. Liam Turman, Student Veterans Union president and sophomore, said he was excited about the turnout for all of the events from this past week.

“Attendance has exceeded my expectations at every event this week, which is great,” Turman said. “Last year was a pandemic so it’s hard to say, but we had 61 people show up to the luncheon, which is more than double the attendance of the same event in 2019.”

Vaughn Cooper, DePaul veterans certifying assistant and senior, agreed the turnout went  beyond his expectations too.

“We had a massive turnout, [an] unexpectedly large turnout,” Cooper said. “We were able to get our main goals across, the understanding of what it means to be a veteran and what Veterans Day means to veterans at large.”

There were a lot more people from the general student body and faculty at the events than the student veterans expected.

“We had a fair amount of normal students show up at the luncheon, but overall for this week it’s been mainly veterans,” Turman said. “Either way I’m just happy to have people at the events.”

Cooper said the turnout from the event was a mix of people who were connected and not connected with veterans.

“We had faculty come out, students who had no veteran affiliation as well as student veterans, so it was a good mix of the overall population,” he said.

Attendees from more than just the veteran demographic at DePaul are helpful for the student veterans to know they are supported by the school at large.

“I think this week went great and I think it illustrates that we as an organization, or even as a school, didn’t lose a step during the pandemic,” Turman said. “We came back and we’re able to continue an upward trajectory because we have amazing students and staff that support organizations like this.”

Beyond the luncheon, there were movie nights, game nights, an ultimate frisbee event and a Salute to Service basketball game. The events allowed the student veterans to connect to the public, sharing stories about their experiences in the military as well as talking to the students and faculty about school and topics other than military life.

Cooper said another benefit to the student body and faculty attending the event is teaching people about veterans from the perspective of someone who has been a part of the experience.

“People who have an ability to hear a wide variety of veteran experiences helps to reel in the perspective on the overall what it means to be a veteran and what this day means to veterans and how much we appreciate the recognition and appreciation for the work we’ve done in our service and our time in the military,” he said.

Student veteran and senior Julian Pinkney said the student body and staff acknowledging the student veterans’ sacrifices helps more than they know.

“The hardest part for most veteran students is the age difference and finding stuff to relate to other students to fit in,” Pinkney said. “Acknowledging and thanking a veteran for their service goes a long way.”

The staff of the veterans affairs office thought the events this week were a success in celebrating veterans and creating a community for student veterans, according to Cooper. He said he is looking forward to future events, wanting to make the community available beyond the week of Veterans Day.

“I want to thank each and every person that did attend any event we had on campus,” Cooper said. “We will be having more events throughout the school year. We’ll have flyers posted around all common areas on both campuses, so please be on the lookout for anything from the office of veterans affairs as well as Student Veterans Association Illinois. We will be working hard to increase our presence on campus and you will see a lot more of us on campus throughout this year.”