While many Americans will enjoy an extra day off on Nov. 10 in recognition of Veterans Day, speakers at a UCLA ceremony today implored those in attendance to reflect and reach out to a veteran.
“Instead of engaging in mindless habits that only serve to perpetuate a system that works to the disadvantage of my community, please take a moment, one minute out of one day in an entire year to reflect tomorrow on the invisible sacrifices veterans have made in service of this imperfect country,” said Tim Perkins, who served in the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a student at UCLA.
Perkins, who was one of two veterans to speak as part of UCLA’s 11th annual salute to those who have served, said it wasn’t always easy dealing with the reality of being a veteran and a student. He is one of approximately 350 veterans who are students at UCLA.
He commended UCLA’s Veterans Resource Center for helping him though, noting the center provides many services to veterans, not the least of which is helping them navigate the bureaucracies that allow veterans to continue their educations, while offering a support group of fellow student veterans and a place to study.
“It’s been said that one measure of a country is how well it treats its veterans, and that’s why it is a priority for UCLA to serve those who have served,” said Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost.
Waugh made note of the UCLA Veterans Resource Center, law students who provide legal services to veterans, and the UCLA VA Family Resource and Wellbeing Center. And he promised “more to come” as UCLA partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the West L.A. VA Campus to fulfill a 10-year, $16.5 million commitment for new programs and support services.
The ceremony was followed by an information fair and the Warrior Games.
Those in attendance also got to hear from World War II veteran Sam Sachs, who was part of the invasion of Normandy.
“How many people in this audience are 73 years old?” asked Sachs, smiling to the crowd watching on Wilson Plaza. “This is before you were born, and probably before your parents were born. That day remains in my mind just as though you were to turn on a high definition TV.”
The former lieutenant colonel recalled that day vividly, so much so that he had barely made it to the beach in his retelling before his speech was over.
“I was ready to give up my life for my country, for the liberation of France and Europe, and thank goodness I’m standing here in front of you 73 years later, at the advanced age of 102,” he said.
“There’s never enough time to hear those experience and share them with the greater community,” Perkins observed after Sachs had spoken.
“If you ever find yourself unexpectedly with a veteran, instead of thanking them for their service, ask them about their experience,” Perkins said. “And while it may be uncomfortable, we are desperate that you hear us. Thank you.”