By: John Munro/Contributing Writer
FIU is getting ready to celebrate its student veterans and commemorate their services with the first veterans graduation ceremony in December 2018.
Travis Dozier, coordinator of Education and Veteran Success at the Veterans and Military Affair office, played a big role in advocating for what he called this long awaited initiative.
Dozier, a veteran, who served 10 years in the army and went overseas to both Iraq and Afghanistan, has been lobbying for the dedicated graduation ceremony since he came to FIU a few years ago. In most universities he’s been to, he said, these ceremonies have already been in place.
On Monday, Dec. 5, 2018, the University will officially begin a separate graduation ceremony every semester in the Parkview Multipurpose Room.
The ceremony will represent not only graduating veterans, but those graduating with a deceased spouse and/or parent in the armed services as well, according to Dozier.
So now, rather than giving “an impersonal graduation ceremony” as Dozier said, it’s being given by the Veteran Center at FIU, just as the Honors College gives special recognition to honors students every semester.
To sign up to attend the event, students and veterans can visit eventbrite and search for it, or ask for more info at the Veterans and Military Affairs office next to the Student Health Center.
Signing up on Eventbrite can acquire you access to the event, however being a family member gives you priority depending on the number of people attending.
In preparation for the graduation, within the next month, Dozier is searching for “donors and non-profits” to attend the ceremony, such as Brian Lynch, who has been appointed by Dozier to be the key-speaker.
Every graduation has a key-speaker and for veterans, Dozier asked Brian Lynch, Director of Mission United, a few months before at a speaking event for veterans
Lynch, a marine corps veteran who served for 15 years, serving in many operations such as Desert Storm during the Gulf War, finished his service in 2000.
Lynch established Mission United, a non-profit organization to help veterans transition back into society, in 2012.
Lynch told Student Media his organization helps veterans with what he calls the “six pillars: employment services, legal assistance, education, health, financial services and housing support.
Lynch helps veterans find jobs, as they transition back into society, as the job market is more difficult than it was before for veterans.
Getting back into civilian life can be challenging at times, according to Dozier, and groups like this can be very beneficial.
“We cannot think of veterans as one a whole, but instead understand they each have individual problems,” said Dozier, who said he has experienced mental trauma with PTSD.
On his relationship with FIU to support student veterans with this graduation, Lynch said the University has been a great partner.
“FIU has been incredibly supportive of veteran initiatives, and Mission United is glad to be a part of this,” said Lynch.