Waynesburg campus honors and helps community veterans

“They say you die twice. Once when you die, and once when you’re forgotten,” Lt. Michelle Steimer, director of the military and veteran student initiatives program at Waynesburg University, said. “Our mission here is to make sure no veteran is ever forgotten that touched this campus.”

To aid in keeping the memory of those veterans alive, Waynesburg University held its second annual Walk to Remember event on Nov. 10 in Johnson Commons. Steiner said the event aimed to allow students to interact with “living history.”

“We have veterans from areas of service from Vietnam to present and they’ll be talking about their times in service, what went on in their lives, and most of our speakers are connected to Waynesburg either as alumni, students or family members,” Steimer said.

One of the veteran speakers at the event, John Dowling, served roughly 34 years in the Army Reserve, predominantly in western Pennsylvania. This was his second year at the event.

“It’s also really nice to interface with students who have a genuine interest in learning about what our experience was and how it may fit in with their lives,” Dowling said. “They don’t take for granted the liberties that they have that were provided by, not just us as service members, but generations of service members.”

Dowling said that it was a pleasure and an honor to share his story with the students of Waynesburg University.

According to Steimer, western Pennsylvania has one of the largest veteran populations in the United States, usually ranking in the top three. 

Students at the event were not just learning from the local veterans, they were helping some of them as well. Students stuffed stockings during the walk as a part of a collaborative service project with the Bonner Scholars program.

“We will be stuffing stockings for veterans in nursing homes across western Pennsylvania [including] Greene County, Washington County, and Allegany,” Steimer said. “We will be giving them a stocking that’s full of everything they need to have a comfortable Christmas Eve as well as a pillowcase that has been hand-sewn by women from the local community.”

As a part of the Waynesburg University mission statement, service plays a role in the events on campus.

“It’s consistent with what a Waynesburg University student is,” Waynesburg University President Douglas G. Lee, said. “They’re so committed to service and outreach and people and caring and compassion that it’s not surprising to see that happen here on this campus. I love the fact that the community, likewise, embraces these moments and we have members of the community here just having this opportunity to be together.”