Honoring Our Veterans
Today, on Veterans Day, we pause to acknowledge those who have put on a uniform for this country.
But this is not the only day that veterans need or deserve our thanks and attention.
The experiences of veterans in this country are as varied as the times, places and ways in which they served. There is no one veteran story, and so at Pacific University we are committed to embracing people of every background and honoring every story.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more difficult this year to celebrate Veterans Day together, all this week we are sharing stories on social media of alumni, employees and students who have served.
They are the stories of those who served long ago, like World War II veteran Bernard Brown ’49, OD ’50, who recently published a book of love letters written to his future wife while he served on the European front.
They are the stories of more recent veterans, like Marine Corps veteran Irisa Grimes ‘17, OT ‘20, who advocates for more inclusive care for transgender veterans.
And they are stories of those who continue to serve through National Guard duty, like optometry professor and alumnus Bill Hefner OD ’96, MEd ’97 and Jessica Hegewald OD ’08, who have been working on COVID-19 response through their units outside of their day-to-day jobs.
These stories are only a snapshot of the service of Pacific alumni, students and employees — our Military Wall of Honor names hundreds of alumni and employees who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
To each of the veterans in the Pacific University community, I say thank you. We appreciate your service and we value your contributions to our community, through your military service and throughout your lives.
But “thank you” is not enough. We also vow to continue to prioritize recognition, support and opportunity for our veteran students, employees and alumni. We are proud to once again have been named among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges for Veterans, and we deeply appreciate the contributions of the Park family — led by the recently deceased Edwin Park — in helping us establish the Veteran Student Resource Center.
We will continue our work to provide veteran-friendly admissions and employment processes, to grow our campus services, to provide routes to new career opportunities, and to be a supportive and welcoming environment for all veterans.
This year, for the first time in many years, Veterans Day is an official university holiday, with offices and classes closed. I hope you will join me in taking this time to read a veteran’s story and in seeking out ways to support veterans in our communities.
Lesley M. Hallick