The University of Nebraska at Omaha celebrated Veterans Day by honoring veterans through community service around the city.
The UNO Office of Civic and Social Responsibility organized a “Veterans Day of Service,” calling students to volunteer for service projects around Omaha on Veterans Day, said Skyler May, the graduate assistant who organized the event. It was one of 15 service days the office organizes every year.
Eighty-four volunteers worked at six nonprofit locations around Omaha. Volunteers worked for Habitat for Humanity at two different houses, May said. Volunteers also worked at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 247, where they helped do a deep-cleaning.
“We had another one I thought was really cool. It was the Victory Riding Academy,” May said. “They do horse therapy for individuals who have had post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Volunteers helped clean up around the academy.
The aim of Veterans Day of Service was to foster a “reciprocal exchange” between volunteers and the veterans they served.
“I think what was really cool to hear from volunteers after they returned from their service was their opportunity to actually work alongside veterans and having that shared experience of listening to their stories and whatever they wanted share with them,” May said.
The office has held the Veterans Day of Service event since 2012.
UNO serves veterans in other ways, too. The Office of Military and Veteran Services supports the military-affiliated community at the university, said Becky Sefcovic, assistant veterans coordinator.
“First and foremost, we try to be a one stop shop for our students,” Sefcovic said.
The office helps students apply to the university, complete the FAFSA and achieve academic success, among many services offered. Additionally, it serves as a liaison to veterans’ organizations and offices on campus.
The office also offers tuition assistance to active duty and reserve service members; advising on veterans’ benefits; and peer tutoring in math, science and writing.
Sefcovic said the student veteran organization celebrated Veterans Day with a “Buddy Poppy” fundraiser, where it collected donations for supporters to wear a poppy flower, which is the official memorial flower of the VFW. The program supports veterans in need.
According to Military Times’ 2017 survey of 175 four-year universities, UNO is the ninth best school in the country for veterans. UNO is a great school for veterans because it strives to provide for the overall wellness of students and take a holistic approach to their education, Sefcovic said.
Pamela Brodman served in the U.S. Air Force as a linguist and now she is a student at UNO.
“Since day one, I’ve felt incredibly welcomed,” Brodman said. “Between the Office for Military and Veteran Services and the accessibility office, I couldn’t have found a better fit. They have taken amazing care to ensure my needs were met.”
Veterans Day was first celebrated Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The holiday was then known as Armistice Day, but was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. The holiday is meant to honor all veterans, living or dead, who served honorably in war or peace.
“In my experience, veterans and active-duty military are incredibly humble about their time served, and just having a day that is meant to thank them is plenty,” Brodman said. “But also having a university that takes such great care of them throughout the year helps the most. Discounts, free lunches and other things like that during Veterans Day are just the cherry on top.”