Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
Students gathered in the Quad for free hot dogs and hot chocolate on Nov. 11 to celebrate Murray State veterans and Veterans Day at an event hosted by the Veteran Student Organization.
Monique Bumstead, president of Veterans Student Organization and Army veteran, said the Veteran Student Organization hosts a Veterans Day event every year, but this is the first year they have set up a tent with free hot dogs, hot chocolate and wristbands for the students to stop in and meet the veterans on campus.
In the past, the Veteran Student Organization hosted a speaking rally on Veterans Day. They change the event every year to keep people interested in what they are doing.
The Veteran Student Organization meets every month to bring people together and remind them of what they have going on.
The organization also teamed up with Tap 216. They encouraged students and community to attend a rebate night at Tap 216 where a certain percentage of proceeds went to Veteran Student Organization.
The organization gives money to veterans who are in need, but they work on a limited budget because they do not take dues, Bumstead said.
“We give money to veteran students in need,” said Bumstead. “We are advocates for the student veterans on campus and everything that relates to supporting the students.”
The Veteran Student Organization is open to any student with an active or veteran status, although Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students are not allowed to join.
Bumstead said she was impressed with the outcome of the event. Coaches and teachers encouraged students to go to the event.
Taylor Franklin, freshman from Wadesville, Indiana, said it was required for her public speaking class to take a picture shaking a veteran’s hand and post it on social media.
“It is a cool event and shows our appreciation to our veterans,” said Franklin.
“I think the whole purpose of the event was to integrate us with the students and to break down barriers. When you see a student who does not seem to be in your age group or seems to be different than you are, it can sometimes be hard to go up and introduce yourself to them,” Bumstead said. “We wanted to integrate with traditional students.”
Victory Media’s Military Friendly Schools list named Murray State for the sixth year in a row. This awards only the top 15 percent of colleges and universities who strive to ensure the success of post-military students on campus.
Bumstead said it is exciting to be named ‘military friendly’ for the sixth year because Murray State works hard to ensure the well-being of veteran students on campus.
“The school has protocol in place to streamline the help that we need from start to finish,” Bumstead said. “When I started, Alison Marshall [Associate Director of Veteran Affairs] was super informative and stayed in touch. She got me to wherever I needed to go when I started. That is where support starts.”
Murray State has protocol in place that helps accommodate students when they go away for training. Veterans also are allowed to have service dogs. If experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, they have access to the disabled students program so they can receive extra help.
“President Davies said it best, ‘Today we are celebrating our status as students when everyone else is celebrating us as veterans.’ We want to be just like all the other students,” Bumstead said. “We are going to look different but we really do want to be a part of Murray State’s population.”