On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 20, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams dedicated their games to recognizing and showing appreciation for SVSU military veterans.
The event highlighted campus veterans’ contributions and sacrifices to both the country and university. Free entrance was allowed with a nonperishable or military care package item to help supply current military members.
“I’m excited to see SVSU recognize their student veterans by having athletes show pride in their fellow students who are veterans by wearing their names,” said Bethany Alford, the director of Military Student Affairs. “It is evidence of our support and how we value our military student veterans here at SVSU.”
The special event kicked off with reserved seating for honorary veterans and their guests. Players also represented each veteran with their names displayed on the back of a player’s jersey. A call was sent out to all student veterans to see if they were interested in the event, and the first 27 who responded had their names placed on the back of the players’ jerseys. Although it seemed like a small gesture, it was a meaningful one to those who were in attendance.
“I am appreciative of this university being so veteran friendly,” said third-year social work major Brendin Broeders, an Air Force veteran who served for six years in flying aerospace maintenance. “Coming from different universities, this has been the most veteran-friendly campus I have been on.”
The groups of honorees arrived prior to the game and received directions on where to go during the recognition. The veterans sat courtside alphabetically and walked out one-by-one at the halftime of both games to be recognized. SVSU President Don Bachand administered a speech to thank the students for their service and recognize their contribution to campus. Once everyone had been called, the group stood in the middle of the court for a final ovation.
“We were excited that President Bachand took the time to acknowledge our student veterans during halftime at an athletic event,” Alford said. “It was extremely moving to the attendees and sent a message as to how student veterans are valued.”
Following the women’s game, all veterans were invited to attend a reception in the Hamilton Gymnasium, where there was food and discussion. The reception allowed for veterans to meet one another and also provided a platform to chat about common experiences.
Fourteen current military student veterans were recognized at the women’s game, and 13 were recognized at the men’s game. In an effort to recognize all of the veterans in attendance, service songs for each branch of the military were played with veterans in the audience standing to represent the branch in which they served.
“I also want to thank everyone for showing their appreciation to the veteran population,” Broeders said. “The event was great because it brought more awareness to veterans on a large stage. It really meant a lot.”
Collaboration between Military Student Affairs, the athletics department, the Office of Student Affairs and the Conference Center made the event possible.