Radford University honors past and current service members at 2015 Veterans Day Ceremony

Keynote speaker Ron Capps addresses the crowd during this year's Veterans Day Ceremonies.

Radford University honored men and women who served their country at the 2015 Veterans Day Ceremony in the Hurlburt Student Center.

The Wednesday, Nov. 11, event acknowledged the sacrifices made by members of the service when they join the military. It also acknowledged the difficulties many veterans might have returning home and integrating into new environments, especially academia.

Organizations from around campus participated in the event. A detachment from Radford University Army ROTC posted the colors in the auditorium, members of the Greek community laid a ceremonial wreath and the Radford Pitches performed the national anthem and a hymn, "Go in Peace."

James Newman, associate professor and Air Force veteran, acted as master of ceremonies for the day.

"From the moment we first take our oaths, some of us as young as 17 years old, we are members of a fraternity," said Newman, also an advisor to the university's Student Veterans Organization, in his opening remarks. "We place ourselves at the service of our country."

Guest speaker and retired Professor Warren Self asked the crowd to remember the different challenges veterans through the years, from the World War II service members, who found great support after their return, to the veterans from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts, who have often come home to more controversy than previous generations. For Self, all deserve recognition.

"On this Veterans Day, and on every other day, veterans have earned our empathetic understanding and support as well as our gratitude for their service," Self said. "We should care."

The keynote speaker for the 2015 Veterans Day Ceremony was Ron Capps, a 25-year Army and Army Reserve veteran, founder of the Veterans Writing Project and author of "Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years."

Capps shared his own story of his consecutive deployments to five different warzones: Kosovo, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur. After the stress of those assignments, Capps came close to ending his own life. A chance phone call from his wife made him realize he needed help. Since leaving active duty military service, Capps has endeavored to help veterans ask for the same help he needed.

Capps encouraged the veterans in the audience to always be mindful of three things: service after service, helping others and taking care of yourself. The first relates to adopting purpose after a military life, of finding a way to continue to play a role in one's community. The second is about being there when others need a hand. The third, however, is, in Capps' estimation, key. A veteran can't serve others if he or she can't help him or herself.

Capps' own experiences convinced him it was time to get serious about demolishing stigmas that prevent some veterans from seeking the treatment they need.

"If you need help, go get it," Capps said. "We need to stop thinking of this division between ‘mental health care' and ‘health care.' It is just health care."

The 2015 Veterans Day ceremony was sponsored by Greek Life, R-SPaCE, ROTC and the Military Resource Center. In addition to the ceremony, RU Dining Services provided a free lunch to all RU veterans.

Nov 12, 2015