Posted Friday, December 1, 2017 @ 3:12 PM
The Veterans Academic Resource Center (VARC), in collaboration with other UCF veteran-centric offices and departments, provided programming and events to honor student veterans and to educate our university faculty, staff, and students about student veterans on campus.
VARC opened their door to serve their UCF student veteran population on November 11, 2010, Veterans Day. VARC serves as the “one-stop-shop and the academic/social home to over 1,400 graduate and undergraduate student veterans,” says Paul Viau, VARC director and associate university registrar. VARC offers general academic/career counseling, lounge space, and quiet study areas. VARC also serves as the liaison between student veterans and the VA regarding their educational benefits.
In addition, during Veterans Month 2017, VARC has produced the Student Veteran Flag Days for the 5th year. During this two-day event, one U.S. flag was planted for each student veteran attending UCF during the fall semester. This year VARC had over 40 volunteers (UCF staff and students) from various UCF offices/departments, such as Global UCF, Recreation and Wellness Center, Office of Student Involvement, Army ROTC, and many others. “This was a small way that I could give back and show my appreciation of the sacrifice that our Veterans’ do and did for our country to keep us safe,” Joanne McCully, administrative assistant RWC, reflected on volunteering to plant flags on Memory Mall. These flags were displayed on Memory Mall to not only to honor our student veterans, but also to show the university community the number of student veterans who are currently attending UCF. At the end of the two-day display, the Veterans History Project held their annual Veterans Commemoration Ceremony, where Viau, extoled importance and impact of Veterans Day.
VARC provided social activities for student veterans and their families and friends, such as Veterans’ Preview Night at Light Up UCF and UCF Veterans Appreciation Night with the Orlando Magic. Light Up UCF “was fantastic and my two little girls just loved their date with Daddy! Thanks a Million,” said Peter Smith, undergraduate nursing major who served in the United States Navy. Veterans Appreciation Night with the Orlando Magic provided veterans and their guests an opportunity to interact with top level Orlando Magic executives who are veterans themselves, provided a tour of the arena, and meet and watch the Magic practice before the game.
With the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, VARC hosted Veteran Education Training and Support (V.E.T.S.), a three hour training that provided an overview of the U.S. Armed Forces and how to interact our UCF student veterans. Rachel Luce-Hitt, coordinator for Educational and Training Programs with ODI, stated, “I appreciated the workshop, I really learned a lot. And I would like to continue to learning more…” VARC also collaborated with Veterans History Project (VHP), with sponsorship from Career Services, to host Bryce Carpenter, Educational Outreach Programs officer from the National Cemetery Administration to speak about his transition from military to civilian life. Additionally, VARC hosted the Association of the United States Army, Sunshine Chapter’s General Membership Meeting with their special guest speaker, (Ret.) General Carter Ham. General Ham is the current president and CEO of AUSA and former Commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Also part of the many celebrations and events on Veterans Day, UCF Athletics and UCF Marching Knights honored our student veterans including some of the UCF student Veterans to be part of the halftime show during the UCF Military Appreciation Game.
Finally for the third year, VARC is coordinating the annual Marines Toys for Tots Foundation Toy drive. This year, VARC is working with the UCF Staff Council and currently have over 15 boxes placed across the UCF Campus. Toy drive ends on Friday, December 8 by 5 p.m. For information on location of Toys for Tots boxes or VARC’s programs/services, contact JJ Johnson at Joshua.Johnson@ucf.edu or 407.823.5874.
To view photos of the Veterans Month events, please click here.