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Ohio University shows appreciation and support for Veterans through Operation Thank A Vet

Ohio University’s Veterans and Military Student Services Center is helping the OHIO community show its appreciation and support for veterans through Operation Thank A Vet, a campaign that will last until Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Part of the campaign will include the grand opening of the new Veterans’ Student Lounge in Baker 363 in Baker University Center on Nov. 10. The grand opening will take place at 10 a.m. outside of the Amanda J. Cunningham Leadership Center (Baker 366).

According to Lt. Col. (ret.) Terry St. Peter, director of the Veterans and Military Student Services Center, Operation Thank A Vet is aimed at providing better access to the OHIO community to show its appreciation for veterans, as well as to create a space where students can connect with veterans directly. The campaign will allow for veterans to be seen and recognized for their sacrifice in defense of our nation and the importance of their service to our way of life.  

“The campaign is a shared vision among many folks who advocate for our veterans on campus,” St. Peter said. “This operation is to raise awareness of our veteran population within the Bobcat community, provide an opportunity for current students, alumni, faculty and staff to have a meaningful chance to say ‘thanks,’ and to make a genuine connection between our veterans and non-veterans on campus.”

Operation Thank a Vet is also tied into the Ohio University Alumni Association’s broader Give Thanks November initiative, in which alumni are invited to give back in their own communities and in support of the University. The letter-writing campaign is open to everyone, including students.

Members of the OHIO community interested in showing their gratitude to veterans can participate in two ways; sending gratitude digitally and in-person. Those interested in leaving a digital “thank you,” may submit the message through the Veterans and Military Student Services website. Those on the Athens campus who prefer to deliver the message in person can stop by the third floor of Baker University Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and Wednesday, Nov. 9, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to connect with and express thanks to those who have served and are serving today, or to pen a “thank you” to veterans.

Veterans, both current students and alumni, are also encouraged to share their photo and story on the Veterans and Military Student Services Center website.   

“It’s important to support our veterans, especially these students who have voluntarily raised their hands to defend our country knowing that we have been engaged in armed conflict for over 20 years,” St. Peter said. “It takes extreme courage to stand up and say, ‘Send me’ and we all owe a debt of gratitude to anyone willing to do that to ensure our freedoms. To our members of the National Guard and Reserves who are currently serving while simultaneously trying to pursue their education during these past couple of years – our hats are off to you as well. You have had to navigate multiple no notice call-ups ranging from COVID support to election security to natural disaster support, which have all placed your studies at risk or on temporary hold. That commitment to serve does not come with the option of saying ‘no’ when called upon.”

Students like Jon Kostival, a senior majoring in integrated social studies from Gallipolis, Ohio, who served in the Army from 2014 to 2019 as a military policeman, are also helping support this campaign and connecting students to veterans in the community.

“I believe the Thank a Vet Campaign is crucial because it gives us a chance to thank our veterans for their selfless service to our nation,” Kostival said. “We may not know all their names or stories, but this gives the students at Ohio University a great way to thank our veterans, that may often be overlooked in our busy daily routines. It is important to me that every veteran feels that their sacrifices for our country are appreciated.

Kostival, who is also vice president of OHIO’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA), is helping with the campaign through assisting in running the booth where students can personally thank a veteran or leave a written thank you message to them. He will also be helping veterans build online profiles so that students at OHIO can see veterans’ profiles on various social media outlets.

Several other members of SVA, including Riley Black, a senior strategic leadership and management major from Massillon, Ohio, are also offering their time to assure veterans in the community are acknowledged and appreciated. Serving for the last six years in the Ohio Army National Guard, Black recognizes the importance of a campaign like this in creating connection between veterans and the OHIO community.

“The Thank a Vet campaign is helping create a connection between students and veterans right here on campus and working to build a stronger community for those who serve and have served at Ohio University,” Black said.  

SVA helps support veterans in the community throughout the year through other major projects like the Athens Area Stand Down, Heroes Helping Heroes, and The Polar Bear Plunge. The organization acts as a catalyst for student veteran success by providing resources, network support, and advocacy to, through, and beyond higher education. SVA offers a friendly environment of diverse and dynamic individuals who share many of the same struggles, excitement, and pride of returning to formal education for professional and personal development after completing our country’s call to service.

“This organization is important because it helped me connect with student veterans. After service, I felt disconnected from students who shared the same experiences as I did and alone on campus. The organization connected me to other veterans struggling with some of the same issues. It helped me connect and form strong friendships that have lasted throughout my time at Ohio University,” Kostival added.

Though Ohio University will be closed on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, there will still be events happening in the community and on Athens Campus. Individuals can show their support for veterans by joining the community and coming out to celebrate and participate in the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, which will be held on Court Street. The parade starts at 10 a.m. with a program at the soldiers and sailor’s monument at 11 a.m. Then join us for Military Appreciation Night at the OHIO hockey team takes on Pittsburgh at Bird Arena at 7 p.m.  Veterans and currently serving service members receive free admission (bring ID or proof of service).

The Veterans and Military Student Services Center, within the division of Enrollment Management, under the University Registrar, opened in Baker University Center in 2014, and works diligently to be the premier resource for military and VA education services for all veterans, military-affiliated students and their families while also providing, facilitating and coordinating programs and services as effectively as possible. They strive to assist students in making a successful transition to the Ohio University community and through their academic careers. The Center serves as the central point of contact for military-affiliated students with a dedicated network of OHIO University Points of Contact serving as additional resources. If you have questions about being an OHIO University military-affiliated student, or suggestions about how we can better serve you, please contact us at 740.566.VETS (8387) or

October 21, 2022
Staff reports