President Emeritus James Wright dedicated much of his energy to issues concerning veterans
returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Wright would be happy to know that his efforts to build a veteran presence on Dartmouth’s campus are still showing their effects.
Veterans enrolled in various programs throughout the graduate school are forming a Graduate Veterans Association (GVA), in an effort to engage the veteran presence in the graduate programs and to help give back to veterans and the larger Dartmouth community. The GVA aims to create a network among veterans enrolled in the college’s Arts and Sciences PhD, and master’s programs to engage a veteran community that does not have a representative body on campus.
Ron Bucca, a first-year graduate student, says that the core of the Association’s mission will be to “unite, mobilize, and advocate for veterans in the Graduate Studies programs.” Bucca, a US Army veteran, is hoping the group will facilitate easy contact with outside organizations, like the veterans’ affairs office in White River Junction.
Mike Rodriguez (USMC), another veteran working to get the GVA up and running, feels that the unique position and freedoms of graduate veterans gives them the opportunity to help the two other veterans associations on campus. The GVA will look to work alongside members of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association and Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association in providing campus vets with important information about veterans’ affairs. They’ll also facilitate, or participate in traditional ceremonies that recognize the sacrifices made by veterans of our generation and those past, like those held on Memorial Day.
The student veterans involved anticipate coordinating events, such as a Wounded Warriors Walk/Run, that will allow the Dartmouth community at large to recognize these sacrifices and help give back. But the group sees its role on campus as expanding beyond enriching veterans’ lives.
“Military issues are really important in the world right now, with the conflict in the Middle East and repercussions of that, and with the election coming up,” Bucca says. “People guess and assume about what we might feel as servicemen and women. Why not just ask us?”
Bucca notes that the early membership of the group represents a variety of military experiences and realities, and sees this as a well of knowledge that should be tapped by the Dartmouth academic community. He stressed that the Graduate Veterans Association will work hard to act as an information center for students looking to further understand or research military issues.
Rodriguez spoke about his participation in an oral history project a fellow graduate student was working on. He explained that this student, like most Dartmouth students, had to rely on word of mouth to find veterans on campus. “Through this association, we want to go to them,” he says.
As the conflicts in the Middle East and the affairs of our military branches increase in importance, especially as we near November, Dartmouth students will be making themselves aware of the nuances surrounding these issues. For a group of Graduate veterans to offer their time and insight to the Dartmouth community is both impressive and mindful.
by Zachary Williams