Community bonds at Veterans Day breakfast


Kiersten Riedford

Turman places the folded flag down onto the table for the missing man, paying tribute to those who are captured or labeled as missing during their service.

Many Chicagoans do not immediately assume Chicago is a hometown to veterans and their families, but on Friday, Nov. 11, the 11th floor of the DePaul Center was cramped with veterans and their loved ones.

This year’s Veterans Day Breakfast event had one of the highest turnouts the event has ever had. Throughout the crowd were widows of veterans who carried roses with them and wore jackets with American flag fabric on the back of them, veterans wearing their uniforms, ROTC cadets, student veterans and DePaul administrators.

Vaughn Cooper, a Marine Corps veteran and senior, said he was excited about the event but did not anticipate as big of a turnout as there was. He said he felt very supported by the DePaul community. 

“It feels great to be here,” Cooper said. “Today’s turnout is incredible. It’s awesome to see people from different backgrounds and branches come together to honor all veterans.”

Every year, the breakfast serves as a meeting place not only just for DePaul veterans, but veterans in the Chicago area as well. While the focus is mainly on student veterans, the scene provides an opportunity for veterans of all kinds to meet and bond over their experiences.

“Whether we deployed overseas, stayed within the United States or served in different branches, veterans have this passion [that helps create] the strongest, most meaningful connections with other veterans,” said Brandon Carroll, Depaul junior, student veteran from the Marine Corps and veteran liaison. “These bonds go so far to say that our military friends are not just friends but family, simply because we share with each other and share the same blood, sweat and tears.”

This year, for the first time, the Veterans Affairs Office is standing on its own, hence why there was only one Veterans Day event as opposed to the several that have been done in the past. Regardless of it standing on its own, Liam Turman, DePaul’s Veterans Benefits coordinator and Army veteran, said he was proud of the participation of so many veterans, student veterans and supporters.

This year was one of the largest turnouts for the Veteran’s Day Breakfast event. (Kiersten Riedford)

Another first for the office was the Veterans Day Breakfast being the first Veterans Day event a DePaul president has ever attended. DePaul President Robert L. Manuel made a point to acknowledge the veterans and student veterans in attendance and thanked them for their service.

During his speech, Manuel pointed out one of the Board of Trustees members in the crowd who himself was a veteran. Manuel said his “fingerprints are all over university leadership” in making progress to help veterans at DePaul succeed.

“His views, his passion, his identity is allowing us to understand the diversity of the student population,” Manuel said. “I want you to know that you are represented at the highest level of the university and in [the] conversation.”

At the end of the event, all attendees were invited to a free breakfast and an opportunity to converse with one another. Many veterans swapped stories amongst each other, laughter and smiles filling the whole room. 

“It’s our day, and it’s very humbling and overwhelming,” Carroll said. “It’s our day to enjoy. Many people have different perspectives on the military, which is perfectly fine, but Veterans Day is our day to honor and reflect on what we do, what we have done and what we will continue to do.”

Vanessa Lopez contributed to the reporting done in this article.

Connect with Kiersten Riedford: @kriedford | [email protected]