“We are free because they are brave,” Lori Gonzalez, PhD, associate vice chancellor for Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs, said today, during the annual Veterans Day tribute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC).
Faculty, staff and students gathered for the breakfast hosted by the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) in the Student-Alumni Center to honor those who have served this country.
Addressing those assembled, Dr. Gonzalez spoke of the letters her father, then a 21-year-old farm boy, sent home during World War II. Those letters included statements about the food and the grime, but they also reflected his love for his country and his belief in the ideals that make this country strong, she said.
“His story is a simple one, and it’s just one of thousands of stories – stories of men and women who ran to, rather than away, from danger,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “They came from all walks of life, all races, religions and creeds. From cities, towns and farms, who with their small and large acts of courage and sacrifice, protected this country founded on the principles of equality, the right to life and the pursuit of happiness.”
UTHSC has a strong commitment to veterans, and in 2015 was recognized as a “VETS Campus.” The designation stems from the 2014 Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, which recognizes higher education institutions that allow veterans a seamless transition from service in the military to enrollment in a university.
“As we honor these sacrifice today, we do so with the heightened awareness of the need to address the evolving needs of veterans as they return to civilian life,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “As the Health Science Center fulfills its obligation as a public institution helping veterans transition and succeed, let us also embrace the responsibility to recognize and appreciate the depth of their commitment and service, and how our lives remain richer because of it.”
As part of the Veterans Day observance, OED offered the opportunity for UTHSC team members to write thank-you notes to veterans undergoing treatment at the Memphis Veterans Administration Hospital. More than 100 thank-you notes were delivered to patients there.