Island University Honors Veterans During Weeklong Celebration

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi held its Veterans Day Celebration Week from Nov. 9-Nov. 13, offering a week’s worth of events – both virtual and in-person – to honor those who selflessly sacrificed while serving the nation. While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the opportunity to host many traditional Veterans Day events, the University worked to shift gears and create an opportunity for the Islander and Coastal Bend communities alike to join in remembering the sacrifice and bravery of those who have put duty before self.  

“There are 22 million veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces in America today,” John Clark, biology major and U.S. Navy veteran said. “Those veterans are still serving our nation even after they complete their official term of service. Here at A&M-Corpus Christi, approximately 15% of our students are military-affiliated and we are working to empower them through education.”

Kicking off the week in proper salute, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi held a socially distanced Veterans Day Ceremony organized by the Office of Veterans Affairs. The ceremony – also offered via livestream, paid tribute to the five branches of the military and the students, staff, alumni, and community members who have proudly served in uniform. The ceremony also honored military brothers and sisters deemed Missing in Action or Prisoners of War with a traditional Missing Man Table donated by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8932.

Throughout the week, the Island University continued to honor veterans through events including a pushup challenge organized by the Veterans Resource Center, the Student Veterans Organization and University Counseling Center to raise awareness for the high suicide rate among veterans. Other events held throughout the week included a Marine Corps birthday celebration, a veterans breakfast, a Veterans Lending Library book drive, and a Wear Red Day in honor of those deployed. A series of videos were also released throughout the week highlighting student veterans and their experiences during their time of service.

“By organizing this celebration, we hope to not only honor those who have served in the past, but those who are serving today,” Timothy Moore, engineering major and Marine Corps veteran said. “This week’s worth of events allows our active-duty and veteran students the time to join in celebration whether they’re here at home or overseas. It’s truly about honoring sacrifice.”

As per tradition, the Island University honored two standout veterans who have helped to make a difference in the lives of Islander student veterans and active-duty military students. This year, the Excellence in Service to Veterans Award was given to Dr. Sarah Skelton, A&M-Corpus Christi psychologist in the University Counseling Center and Army reservist; along with Islander student Henry Justiniano, an engineering major and Marine Corps Veteran. Skelton, awarded for her service in procuring the mental health and wellness of Islander student veterans, was unable to accept the award in-person as she is deployed in Kuwait. Justiniano, awarded for donating his time to tutoring and mentoring Islander veterans, said the award shows no good deed goes unnoticed.

“It’s a special feeling to receive this award,” Justiniano said. “From the very beginning of my time here at A&M-Corpus Christi, I had someone to help guide me, and for me, it’s important to continue to help my fellow vets because I wouldn’t be where I am without them. It’s not easy to get through school by yourself; it takes a team effort and that’s what I’m here to help with.”