Students, faculty and alumni celebrated Veterans Day Nov. 11 by officially opening the Veterans Lounge in the Armory, reserved for current students who have served or will serve in the military.
The new area includes couches, chairs and tables, as well as a whiteboard that will facilitate PowerPoint presentations during meetings.
“We wanted this to be a space where veterans could study, network, plan and hold programs. This is the home of the Drexel Veterans Association,” Rebecca L. Weidensaul, who serves as both associate dean of students and the director of Veterans Services, said.
As director of Veterans Services, Weidensaul is in charge of creating a positive environment on campus for veterans. She works with prospective students who are veterans to let them know all of the services that are available for them at Drexel, such as counseling, disability services, academic support and programmatic support.
Weidensaul worked with Melissa Englund, assistant vice president for Enrollment Planning and Retention, Louisa Kopp, associate director for Alumni Relations, and others who are active in Drexel veterans’ affairs to design and decorate the lounge, which features the work of Poto Leifi, a California commercial artist-turned-soldier.
“[He] thought the U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq should be remembered full of life and in a way that celebrated their patriotism,” Weidensaul said.
Visitors to the lounge can see Leifi’s art, vestiges of the 10-year 9/11 memorial that was held in September, and the Military-Friendly School Plaque. Drexel was awarded this plaque when it was named among the top 15 percent of schools in terms of accommodating veteran students.
By the door of the lounge hangs a Tom Gallo print to remind all civilians the debt that is owed to veterans. It reads, “It is the veteran who salutes the flag. It is the veteran who serves under the flag, to be buried by the flag, so the protester can burn the flag.”
For the official unveiling of the lounge and the ceremony honoring Veterans Day, Dean of Students David Ruth expressed his personal appreciation for veterans everywhere and challenged others to live in a way that honors the work of our military. Military personnel, alumni veterans and members of the Veterans Task Force attending the ceremony were recognized and commended for their work.
“It is not enough to simply remember. We must assure that those who gave and continue to give, those who have served and continue to serve, have not done so in vain,” Ruth said.