From the beginning of their military careers, service members are taught and trained to be strong leaders, not just on the battlefield, but in everything they do.
Even when they put away their uniform and leave the military, leadership remains at the core of every veteran — making an impact wherever they go.
“We are thrilled they are among us every day getting to continue to set their example of leadership at Carolina,” said Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement. “Our veterans are indeed an important part of our community.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrated those leaders — its veterans and active-duty service members — Nov. 10 during the Tar Heel Tribute and Nov. 11 with the annual Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony at the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service.
“This is a chance for us to say thank you to every one of our veterans and active duty military,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “You honor us by being here today. We can never say thank you fully for what you give in service of your country.”
Carolina’s celebration began with the Tar Heel Tribute at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. The third annual event was sponsored by Office of the Dean of Students and the Division of Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement, including Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, and the Office of Human Resources.
“This is just one small way that we salute you,” Washington said.
Imogene M. Jamison, former lieutenant colonel for the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and current associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, gave the keynote speech, talking about the leadership skills veterans possess.
“Without question, veterans set the standards for leadership both on our college campuses and in the workforce,” she said. “Veterans, decisive, brave, selfless problem solvers, are exceptional leaders and serve as personal examples for all.”
The Tar Heel Tribute also gave veterans and service members the chance to learn more about Carolina services and resources aimed at helping them succeed.
A few examples include the Veterans Resource Team, which serves students and employees who are active duty military or veterans, and Green Zone Training, which educates faculty and staff about issues facing veterans. The University also provides distance-learning programs designed for service members through the Friday Center called UNC CORE and courses from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.
“We look for more ways to be a very positive and successful university where active duty military and veterans will seek and want to come,” Folt said.
Hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill’s ROTC, the Veterans Day Memorial ceremony held the following day thanked veterans for their service to the country.
“We [serve] for the love of our country, we do it for our families and we do it for the service member next to us,” said Maj. Shane Doolan, a professor of military science. “We look for no favor and we ask for no reward. But on days like this, that one time we get recognized, we truly, truly appreciate it from our the bottom of our hearts.”
Faculty Chair Bruce Cairns, who served in the Navy for 19 years before becoming the director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care, was the ceremony’s featured speaker.
Reflecting on his own time in the military, which included serving as the general surgeon at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam, Cairns discussed the service military members provide every day in the face of challenging situations.
“People from all over the country, with different backgrounds, training, goals and aspirations came together for a common cause: the belief in a commitment to serve our country,” he said.
It is a similar commitment, Cairns said, that Americans owe to veterans and service members today for the sacrifices they’ve made.
“No matter what your station is in life, whether you’ve served or not, that your nation, your fellow citizens, your veterans need your support,” he said. “Do what you can do. No complaining. No whining. It’s just what we need to do.”