This year's Veterans Day ceremony at UCLA gave special recognition to the memory of Corporal Elias Reyes Jr., who graduated from UCLA in 2012 with B.A. in philosophy. He died on April 12.
Campus faculty, staff, students, and alumni came together today in Wilson Plaza to salute current military service members and veterans for their service. Among the speakers at the ceremony were Chancellor Gene Block and two veterans from the campus community: Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Kelly Schmader, formerly of the U.S. Navy; and UCLA School of Dentistry student Tigon Abalos, a U.S. Army veteran.
Schmader spoke highly of military service members and the dedication, sacrifice and diligence they bring to their jobs every day. Abalos, who served in Afghanistan, talked about how overcoming mental and physical challenges in the military gives her the confidence to work past any obstacles that come her way in civilian life.
This was the seventh annual Veterans Day ceremony at UCLA.The first ceremony took place in 2007 when a memorial plaque was placed at the Student Activities Center to commemorate veterans who have died serving their country. The memorial was inspired by the life and death of Army 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily, a 23-year-old Bruin alumnus who was killed by an improvised explosive device on January 15, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq.
This year, special recognition was given to the memory of Corporal Elias Reyes Jr., who graduated from UCLA in 2012 with B.A. in philosophy and was working towards his goal of becoming a doctor. He died on April 12. “His death serves to remind us that not all scars carried by veterans are visible,” the program for today's ceremony read. In addition to a joint color guard demonstration by ROTC cadets, UCLA music student Tristan Hurd played the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Taps” on the trumpet.
UCLA has a long history of serving veterans and active-duty military members dating back to the end of World War II. The campus offers a wide variety of services and programs that benefit veterans. The university recently received top honors from two publications that evaluate how well institutions of higher education serve veterans’ needs.
The university was designated “Best for Vets” in the Military Times college rankings. UCLA was also named as one of the nation’s top military-friendly universities in the 2015 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities, published by Military Advanced Education. Both rankings take into account a number of factors, including the rigor of academic offerings as well as the availability of specific programs to help veterans.