It’s Military Appreciation Week at Rowan University. Although the University cannot host its annual ceremony honoring veterans, virtual opportunities to celebrate and honor those who served are still happening all week long.
On Monday, Rowan launched its annual Toys for Tots campaign, and students got the opportunity to send virtual notes of thanks to currently deployed New Jersey military personnel through the Military Services Office.
“For Veterans Day this year, we are actually not doing a ceremony. This is the first year we’re actually not doing a ceremony, due to the current pandemic. We will be sharing on our Facebook page the New Jersey Department of Veterans Affairs’ feed for their live [virtual] presentation,” Elizabeth Sosnoski, Rowan’s military services coordinator, said.
With most in-person events and activities prohibited on Rowan’s campus, thanks to COVID-19, the Office of Military Services has had to get creative with honoring veterans this year.
“We actually do care drives for the New Jersey Support of the Guard. We refer students to use different outreaches, so they’re basically Rowan events that we sponsor, that we bring outside resources that help with different areas,” Sosnoski said.
Rowan sponsored multiple virtual events on Tuesday, including the Veterans Affairs healthcare presentation with the Wilmington Virginia Hospital, Millville NJ’s Veterans Multi-Service Center meeting, and a meeting with the Military Support Group of NJ. These virtual events helped spread awareness to the Rowan Community about veterans and served as resources to Rowan’s own military-affiliated students.
With a usually small number of US veterans attending college after serving, veteran students at Rowan have actually been increasing in number recently.
“We see that change. I know that we’re noticing a big increase in the last, I’d say, year and a half because those students that originally decided that the military was the way for them are getting out and deciding now to go to school and have the benefits to pursue their education,” Sosnoski said.
“I can tell you when I started in this position, we were averaging right around a hundred students a semester, and this semester we’re at 600 military-affiliated students, so we have seen a major increase.”
The Office of Military Services is striving to bring more awareness to veteran students at Rowan this Veterans Day, particularly as veteran students face additional challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“One thing our office offers to anyone in the campus community is the Stars and Stripes program. It’s on our website. There’s a training that’ll just let students or faculty or staff know some of the challenges veterans may face when transitioning back to civilian life. Still, especially in a university setting,” Sosnoski said. “So I think that’s a good thing for everybody to know…because a lot of student veterans struggle with finding their place within the community.”
More Rowan-sponsored events for Military Appreciation Week and Veterans Day will be listed in the Rowan Announcer every day this week as well as posted on the Military Services Office’s Facebook page.
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