Brookdale veterans packed the MLK Lounge of the SLC on Nov. 12 with their former uniforms, medals, photos, books and other memorabilia and artifacts that helped to illustrate life in the military and as a veteran.
“Lunch with a Veteran,” presented by Brookdale’s Veterans Club and hosted by the Brookdale chapter of Student Veterans of America in collaboration with Student Life and Activities, came just a day after Veterans Day. The event was complete with Brookdale veterans representing each branch of the military ready to mingle and share their stories while students enjoyed a free lunch.
“Lunch with a Veteran” was organized to “interact with different students and faculty at Brookdale,” according to Joey Gallo, a business management major and Air Force veteran. As secretary of the Veterans Club, Gallo helped organize the event.
“Lunch with a Veteran” was also intended to “educate [students] on the military experience” and “pay respect to Veterans Day,” Gallo said.
Students were given the opportunity to explore the displays of veterans’ items, converse with veterans who were present and eat. In fact, recruiters were not allowed to join. Thus, giving any student the opportunity to engage in conversation and ask veterans questions regardless of whether they were interested in joining the military in the future.
“We all struggle,” Gallo said. In regard to young people and military veterans, Gallo said, “I feel like if we come together and learn about each other, and there’s more understanding and more listening, we can help each other because we all struggle with similar things.”
While Gallo believes that the best part of being a veteran is the camaraderie shared with fellow veterans, the hardest part is “being misunderstood.” However, he said students who want to support veterans shouldn’t “be afraid to get to know them” because “veterans like to communicate with others.”
Gallo’s sentiments were observable at “Lunch with a Veteran,” as the veterans present were enthusiastically interacting with interested students.
Presently, there is a collection box in the Veterans Center, MAC 112, for the 6th annual Stockings for Soldiers fundraiser. They are accepting new and unopened individually wrapped donations for active-duty members currently deployed, as well as K-9 dogs and their handlers until Nov. 26. They have suggested donating wool caps, socks, travel-sized toiletries, baby wipes, grooming tools such as combs and nail clippers, individual K-9 treats made in the USA, Cup-O-Noodles and more.
To get more involved, join the Veterans Club in their launch of “Free Yoga Fridays” in MAC 112. Gallo will guide participants in a 30-minute DDP yoga session on Fridays at 3 p.m., though dates may vary. DDP yoga is where sports therapy, dynamic resistance, traditional fitness, and yoga meet. Gallo remarked that the goal is to “decrease stress levels” for veterans and students.