UW-Platteville Celebrates Veterans’ Week

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UW-Platteville Celebrates Veterans’ Week

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On Nov. 12, Velzy Commons hosted the 2019 Veteran’s Reception for members of the military, active and veteran, along with students, faculty and staff. The event was put on by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the Wright Center for Non-Traditional and Veteran Students.

The reception began with an introduction by Greg Tremelling, coordinator for the Wright Center for Non-Traditonal and Veteran Students, and a flag presentation by active duty UW-Platteville students. The attendees were then treated to hors d’oeuvres.

“Veteran’s Day, to me, is a time to remember the people that have come before us, that have served in the uniform and who have made our nation what it is today,” said Tremelling.

After the break, the Wright Center presented Rosa Spooner with the SALUTE NHS Scholarship.

“We can’t do enough for veterans. Getting out of the service myself and coming into this environment, I didn’t know what to expect. I was an enlisted Marine, and this organization really helped me find my way and figure out how I wanted to represent myself…[it] helped me readjust into what you need to do to get the most out of this experience, this learning experience,” President of the Student Veteran Organization Justin Barewald said.

The main event of the night was the speech given by the keynote speaker, Colonel Robert Kuckuk. Col. Kuckuk graduated from UW-Platteville in 1986 with a BS in Industrial Education. Following college, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of the Marines and became a Naval Aviator in 1990. Col. Kuckuk served the majority of his flying career at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, AZ, first with the world famous Blacksheep Squadron, then as a flight instructor and later as Detachment Commander and Squadron Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After 30 years of active service, Col. Kuckuk went on to become a Professor of Naval Science and Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps detachment at Norwich University and, most recently, as an Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

Kuckuk said that, as a student at UW-Platteville, he would commute everyday from Madison. As an alumnus, this reception was his first time back at the university since graduating.

Remarking on Wisconsin’s contribution to the wars the United States have been involved in, Kuckuk described examples such as the Wisconsin regiments that served in the Civil War, the MacArthur family and their origins in Milwaukee and the story of “Old Abe”, the American eagle who was the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War and later the 101st Airborne as the “screaming eagle.”

The theme, then, for Kuckuk’s presentation was the spirt of service. Kuckuk outlined two sets of three points, the first set being related to veterans and the things they must do: veterans must participate in the republic by voting and making their voices heard, veterans have to help where they can to get the next generation to want to serve their country, and lastly, to always tell the truth.

“You don’t get to stop being a veteran,” stated Kuckuk.

Kuckuk also outlined the United States government must fulfill a list of promises to veterans. These include keeping promises to veterans and their families with their healthcare, bringing back captured and missing servicemen, regardless of how long it takes, and finally, the government cannot ignore veterans of unpopular wars. 

“I’m real careful to remember Veteran’s Day as a time when we talk about living veterans and those that have served their country because, remember, we have Memorial Day, which is set aside to remember those that didn’t make it. Whether they died in war, whether they died long after their service, it’s still Memorial Day to remember our dead, or fallen veterans,” said Kuckuk. “But this is a day that I like to talk about promises made by the government, which I work pretty hard to ensure that they keep in a lot of different ways. They make promises to young men and women, that then give [the government] a number of years of their lives. And then [the government] has to hold up their end of the bargain.”

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