Veterans gather at DU for breakfast, praise school for treatment

Photo by Jen Cardone | The Duquesne Duke. Veterans hold flags at a breakfast Tuesday morning in the Union Ballroom.

Photo by Jen Cardone | The Duquesne Duke. Veterans hold flags at a breakfast Tuesday morning in the Union Ballroom.

By Jen Cardone | The Duquesne Duke

Duquesne hosted more than 680 veterans and their family members at a breakfast Tuesday in the Union Ballroom, which gave veterans the chance to respond to Duquesne’s numerous accolades in veteran treatment.

U.S. News and World Report recognized Duquesne as the 28th best school for veterans in the United States and the 36th overall for its bachelor’s degree programs for veterans.

Sarah Gault, a Duquesne business student who graduated in 2011, served in Southwest Asia, Qatar and South America. She enlisted for the Air National Guard Reserve right out of high school and trained one weekend a month.

“I took my core business classes online [at Duquesne] and didn’t fall behind,” Gault said. “I was able to graduate on time with my class because of it.”

This year, Forbes Magazine deemed Pittsburgh the best place for veterans to live after leaving the service. It is based on the growing population, affordability, services for children and safety.

“Everyone welcomes you in the Pittsburgh area,” Vietnam veteran Clem Blazewick said. “If you’re wearing a cap and uniform, people always stop and shake your hand.”

Dick Silk, a Vietnam veteran, also commented on the friendliness of Pittsburgh.

“If you talk to people in other cities you would know that Pittsburgh is a very warm city where people are welcome,” Silk said. “People look out for each other. It’s a city but people treat it like it’s a small town and a place where you want to raise kids.”

Theo Collins, a representative of the University’s Veterans Advisory Board, serves as a liaison between student veterans and the University. He and his advisory board of veteran students, alumni and faculty are developing plans to make Duquesne even more veteran friendly and to establish a Veterans’ Services Office.

“In Pittsburgh, a lot of the universities are extra veteran friendly and Duquesne is becoming one of the best for veterans,” Collins said. “We are working to establish veteran services that most other universities have on campus.”

During the breakfast, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright spoke about what her department plans to enact for future veterans.

Wright also addressed the issue of suicide among veterans. She said that even though the number of deaths by suicide has decreased from 6.8 percent to 5.3, there is still room for improvement.

Wright also thanked all veterans who protect the homeland “for preserving that intangible quality we all call freedom.”

The breakfast ended with a segment where World War II veterans shared their war stories and life lessons.

World War II and Korean War Marine Jim Scheder was very positive about being a veteran in Pittsburgh.

“If you want to get help, there’s always someone to help veterans,” Scheder said.

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