SVSU hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall Banquet Rooms.
The event began with a speech by Director of Military Affairs Bethany Alford.
“To our military-connected students, staff and faculty, we thank you for your service,” she said during the event. “SVSU’s commitment to its veterans can be demonstrated in its recognition as a veteran-friendly and military-friendly institution.”
The presentation of colors occurred as SVSU’s Encore sang the national anthem. After- ward, President Donald Bachand spoke on behalf of SVSU’s veterans and the Military Affairs Office.
“The recognitions that SVSU has received over the years as a veteran-friendly institution have been some of my greatest points of pride,” he said. “These recognitions are due to the very good work of Bethany Alford and her staff at Military Affairs Office and the students.”
This year, Military Times designated SVSU a Best for Vets college for 2019. SVSU was ranked No. 101 of all four-year universities. It marked the fourth consecutive time that Military Times has given SVSU a ranking.
Bachand also lent his support to SVSU veterans during the celebration.
“As you celebrate Veteran’s Day, please know that your Cardinal family supports and has gratitude for all you have done,” Bachand said.
Colonel Timothy Houchlei was this year’s guest speaker. He serves as the state family programs director for the Michigan Army National Guard. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 1985 through the Michigan State University ROTC program. He served in the United States Army Infantry from 1980 through 1982, and he has several awards throughout his military career.
“I could’ve worn my (army uniform), just as the infantry regiment (who presented the colors) did,” he said. “But I didn’t for a reason. I want you all to see that I’m just like you, just like all the men and women in the Michigan National Guard are.”
Just like anyone else, Houchlei said that veterans and soldiers struggle with serious issues. He shared that 11 percent of the Michigan National Guard self-identify as having drinking problems. Two percent use illicit drugs, 20 percent struggle financially and six percent have suicidal thoughts. Since 2001, 31 deaths by suicides have occurred in the Michigan National Guard, 24 of whom were in their 20s.
“Not all is lost,” Houchlei said. “There are many, many good programs to help.”
After discussing some of the options for struggling veterans and soldiers, such as Volunteers of America and the GI Bill apprenticeships, Houchlei discussed the importance of honoring veterans.
“There are many ways to honor veterans,” he said. “Our veterans don’t ask for much. We don’t do it for the glory. Our neighbors, our communities show their support by hiring veterans, giving them jobs, visiting them in the VA hospital or donating to a local veteran’s program.”
He encouraged all present to thank a veteran not just on Veteran’s Day, but any time one sees a veteran.
“While our debt to these heroes can never really be repaid, our gratitude and respect really should be (given to them),” he said.
After the speech, Encore performed “America the Beautiful,” and a reception with cake followed the ceremony.