2012 Veterans Day Ceremony


Good morning, everyone. I want to begin by thanking Commander Matthew Mowad for that introduction, and for his service to our veterans, our campus and our country.

I also thank all of you for being here today to recognize the service of our valiant veterans.

Today, we come together to pay tribute to the thousands of Bruins—students, staff, faculty and alumni—and the millions of Americans around the country who have served our nation so courageously in uniform.

And I’d like to take a moment right now to recognize veterans who have recently completed their military service and have enrolled as students here at UCLA. On behalf of the entire UCLA family, we welcome you to UCLA, and we thank you for your service. Let’s give a big round of applause for our newest veterans!

While we’re at it, I want to recognize our current ROTC students. Thank you for your commitment to service.

As many here may recall, on October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation.

Here’s what the former supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II asked us to do on Veterans Day in that original proclamation: “On that day, let us solemnly remember all those who fought so valiantly—on the seas, in the air and on foreign shores—to preserve our heritage of freedom. And let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

That’s a powerful, two-pronged purpose for any holiday. Remember our veterans and promote an enduring peace.

At this university, because we are a public institution, public service is in our DNA. We support and encourage all forms of public service as well as all forms of research and education aimed at promoting the public good.

And on this campus, I’m proud that we particularly extol the courageous and selfless service of those Americans—proud patriots all—who put on the uniform and put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.

Speaking on behalf of the entire UCLA family, this university is determined to do our public duty in return. As a campus community and as a nation, let us express our profound gratitude toward our veterans.

I’m pleased to say that UCLA has been putting gratitude into action across campus in the form of concrete programs to help our veterans succeed here at UCLA, and beyond. Let me give you just a few examples.

Our Veterans Resource Office offers veterans and dependents the tools they need to succeed academically and personally at UCLA. And our Veterans Resource Team consists of staff across campus who can offer veterans personalized assistance. The “Boots to Bruins” Fiat Lux seminar helps students transition from military to civilian life, and explores pertinent research and theory on the topic

UCLA’s Operation Mend—a creative partnership with Brooke Army Medical Center and the V.A.—provides reconstructive surgeries for wounded and disfigured service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center’s remarkable advances in researching, diagnosing and treating brain injuries have been enlisted to serve the needs of our military personnel—revolutionizing the military’s understanding of brain injury and recovery.

In addition, UCLA researchers developed a program called FOCUS—which stands for Families Over Coming Under Stress—offering life and family skills to military families coping with multiple deployments and the effects of PTSD. This program is offered to families on military bases across the United States and overseas.

The Anderson School’s Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities provides entrepreneurship and small business management training to disabled soldiers. Finally, I’ll mention Operation Gratitude, which has been a terrific success. Thousands of care packages and personalized notes of gratitude have been sent to service members overseas. In fact, there will be an opportunity to write letters of appreciation here today.

So, yes, we have a number of very important programs for veterans here at UCLA as well as for our deployed troops. But the fact is many in the UCLA community and beyond are simply unfamiliar with these programs, not to mention the unique challenges veterans face in their transition to campus and civilian life.

Many are also unaware of the incredible leadership qualities and other assets that veterans bring to their professions and community and civic life.

So I want you to know that in 2013 we will launch a year-long campaign to build greater appreciation for veterans on and off campus, and to increase awareness regarding UCLA’s programs, services and research that supports our veterans. You’ll be hearing more details about this initiative in the months ahead.

Of course, we can never fully repay the national debt we owe to veterans. But we can and we must do all we can to make their lives a little bit better. We can and we must help veterans get into college to continue their education. We can and we must provide necessary career counseling and advanced medical treatment for wounded veterans.

So today, as we honor our veterans, on campus and throughout the nation, let us cultivate an attitude of profound gratitude toward those who have served.

And let us heed the words of President Eisenhower, who called on us nearly 60 years ago to remember our veterans and promote an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

Thank you all once again for being here and for your support for veterans, on and off campus.