Honoring UCLA’s Veterans
Dear Bruin Community:
In a recent UCLA Connections interview, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and executive director of the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center Tess Banko said that being a veteran means “serving something greater than yourself, challenging yourself to make it past obstacles that you thought you might not make it past, innovating to carry out your mission, and uplifting others…because part of the reason that many of us serve is to support others, our country and our communities.”
Tomorrow — Wednesday, Nov. 11 — is Veterans Day. While we are unable to hold our traditional Veterans Day ceremony this year, I wanted to take a moment to thank UCLA’s veterans for their service and to recognize the example they set for our community. Their resilience, dedication to the public good and ingenuity in challenging times are traits that each Bruin should aspire to emulate.
UCLA’s commitment to serving those who served goes back to the end of World War II, when our very first medical students helped treat soldiers returning from war at the West Los Angeles VA hospital. That effort grew into one of UCLA’s most robust academic partnerships, which today involves hundreds of students, trainees and faculty in medicine, nursing, public health, law and social work who assist thousands of veterans each year. Across campus, we’ve established groundbreaking programs in realms like state-of-the-art reconstructive surgery, treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, and legal assistance with benefit claims and other matters — all offered to veterans at no cost.
Earlier this year, UCLA was ranked the No. 1 public institution in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best colleges for veterans. This was a wonderful acknowledgement of the work of so many in our community, and especially those in our Veteran Resource Center. The center’s staff, many of whom are veterans themselves, have been working tirelessly this year to provide their services even during the pandemic.
UCLA’s veterans selflessly volunteered to serve our nation and its people, and we must repay them by ensuring our community remains accommodating of their needs, committed to understanding the complexity of military service, appreciative of the knowledge and experiences they bring to campus, and eager to assist them in the transition to civilian life. On Veterans Day, we humbly acknowledge that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same way that they served us, but it remains our duty to try.
To learn more about UCLA’s veteran services and about some of our veterans themselves, I encourage you to read this article on how our veterans programs are adapting during the pandemic and to view the “Veterans of UCLA” series on Twitter.