By: Joseph Fisher, Managing Editor
The Bloomsburg University Student Veterans Association (BUSVA) sponsored Military Appreciation Day on Wednesday, April 25 from 11-5 p.m. on the Student Services patio.
For a small donation, people could get a hamburger or hot dog and a drink. Members of BUSVA were there to help in the cooking, collecting of money, and organization of the day’s events.
Joshua Bentley, president of BUSVA, said that the event was a success last year so they decided to do it again.
“Everyone is out here just having a good time,” said Bentley. “This is a great way to get our name out there to students to learn more about our organization. Our club is committed to recognizing veterans and their efforts.”
Bentley served two tours in Iraq. The first tour was from 2004-05 and his most recent from 2008-09. He is a non-traditional student at Bloomsburg University majoring in communication sign language and interpreting. Bentley is 30-years-old and hopes to be a communication trainer upon graduation or to possibly go back on active duty.
“I think it is important to make the campus more aware of what we do and to have a better understanding of the background of these great people,” Bentley said.
Alan Schappert, Vietnam veteran and current president of the Danville Area School District Board of School Directors, thinks that an appreciation day on campus reminds people of the way it used to be and gives people a chance to support the troops in their own way.
“In the ‘60s there was a lot of political turbulence,” Schappert said. “People blamed the armed forces for the problems going on in the country. An event like this would have never been promoted.”
Schappert was not afraid to say that he did not want anything to do with the military when he was a college student. He attended what is now SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and had aspirations of being a forester. He ended up getting drafted and was a B-52 air pilot in Vietnam.
“I didn’t necessarily love the lifestyle,” he said. “I met a lot of great people. There is like an invisible fraternity in the military that average civilians don’t understand, especially between those who have been in combat.”
Now he finds himself involved in education. Schappert says that his role is to help in the appreciation for learning. He is dedicated to helping kids face whatever their next move is after high school. Schappert strongly believes that there is a fundamental difference between teaching and learning and strives to separate the two in order to advance learning within the Danville School District.
Some of the fun and exciting events going on throughout the day were a wing-eating contest, which was won by sophomore Michael Walker, and a push-up contest at 3 p.m.
The day also was filled with guest speakers who were veterans. These individuals shared their experiences with the crowd and gave younger people interested in following similar career paths advice for the future.
“It is an honor to see the community involvement today,” said Josh Lang, vice-president of the Student Veterans of America. “What is amazing is seeing the transition of these veterans into the community making a difference.”
A raffle table was set up by BUSVA, giving the winners their choices of selected gift cards to various businesses around town. The DAWN office was on hand along with the Harrisburg Vet Center and the president of the Columbia County Veterans Affairs office, Jim Merk.
BUSVA was created over two years ago to give recognition to those who put themselves on the line in defending America and the freedoms that all citizens of this country enjoy. Bentley says, the organization is committed to recognizing individuals who go above and beyond in protecting our country.
Students interested in joining BUSVA do not have to be veterans, but can be strong supporters of the military as well. Schappert says that the biggest problem in America today is the indifference toward war and American troops.
“Each member of the military cares. Other people should want to care about those serving because they are Americans, too,” Schappert said.