On Veterans Day, Student Veterans Collect Donations for Troops

Members of U.S. Military Veterans at SMU

In honor of Veterans Day, student veterans at SMU are collecting donations for holiday care packages for military members serving overseas. Items will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 11 at Hughes-Trigg Commons and November 12 on the Boulevard near McFarlin Auditorium, where the student veterans will host a tent before the SMU-Navy game at 2:30 p.m.

The students are seeking portable snacks, books, magazines and toiletries; monetary donations will be applied to the care packages and shipping charges, says junior Santiago Martinez, who served in the Marine Corps from 2004 to 2008.  He leads and helped found a new student organization, the U.S. Military Veterans of SMU.

“Most people know someone who has served or is serving in the military, whether it was a great-grandfather, a parent, a brother or sister, cousin or friend,” says Martinez, a communication studies major in Meadows School of the Arts. “With care packages, our community can give something back to those who have chosen to serve our country in a time of war. Troops also get a reminder that we are thinking of them, which is a real boost for morale.”

Nearly 175 veterans, reservists, active-duty military and their families are attending SMU through programs including the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which provide education benefits to military veterans and their dependents. SMU also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, contributing tuition funds that are matched by Veterans Affairs. SMU’s student veteran population has increased more than 200 percent in the last five years.

“SMU is proud to be home to veterans, reservists and active-duty military and their families,” says Lisa Webb, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of Student Life. “After serving our country, they continue to make important contributions to our community, in classrooms and across campus.”

(Photo from DeGolyer Library WWII collections.)

In his service as a Marine sergeant, Martinez was based in San Diego and had tours in Japan and Korea. He transferred to SMU this fall from Eastfield College in the Dallas County Community College District. “I met another transfer student who is also a veteran, and we talked about starting this organization,” says Martinez, who is from Dallas. “We noticed a lot of veterans on campus, with their backpacks and hats.

“We hope our organization can help veterans make the transition to student life. We’re often older than the typical college student, and many of us have served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hope to provide encouragement and information, and just a place to hang out and talk.”