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Military and Veteran Graduate Recognition Ceremony Dec. 7 for APSU Fall Graduates

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Active duty military and veteran students graduating from Austin Peay State University in December will be honored with an APSU military coin and a special cord to wear with their commencement regalia.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Active duty military and veteran students graduating from Austin Peay State University in December will be honored with an APSU military coin and a special cord to wear with their commencement regalia.

The military and veteran graduate recognition and coin presentation ceremony, with the theme “All Hail to Those Who Serve,” is scheduled for 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7 in the Mabry Concert Hall, located inside the Music/Mass Communication Building on the University campus. The event is open to the public.

The guest speaker will be Sgt. Maj. Ruben Arriaga, the vice president of the APSU Military Alumni Chapter since 2014. Arriaga graduated from Austin Peay in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a focus in homeland security, and will receive his Master of Science in health and human performance with a concentration in health leadership: health administration path at fall commencement.

In 1996, Arriaga enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a rifleman in the 4-31 Infantry. A year later, he joined the Battalion Scouts, followed by two years with the Ft. Drum Long Range Surveillance Detachment.

In 2002, upon completion of the Special Forces Qualification Course, Arriaga was assigned as a communication sergeant to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As a member of Operation Detachment Alpha (ODA) 582, he deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He would go to Iraq several more times, serving as operations sergeant of Operational Detachment Bravo 570 on his last tour with Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion.

When he returned, Arriaga took over ODA 5315 as team sergeant and deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. Following that deployment, he became a first sergeant for the 3rd Battalion Support Company, and in 2013, he was selected for promotion to sergeant major. After a year of service in the CENTCOM Area of Operation, Arriaga joined Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, as the company sergeant major. With this company, he deployed to Jordan, with a follow-up mission into Syria to support Operation Inherent Resolve.

Arriaga is a graduate of Air Assault School, Airborne School, Ranger School, Jump Master School, SERE, SOTIC, Special Forces Intelligence Course, Combat Diver Qualification Course, DIVE Supervisor Course and the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. His awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star X 6, ARCOM with Valor X 2 and the First Special Service Force Frederick Award.

APSU created its first coin with military students in mind. The antique bronze color coin, designed by the APSU Office of Public Relations and Marketing, is finished with black enamel. The first set was cast in 2011.

On one side of the coin, the eagle is prominently displayed as the nation’s symbol, along with other American patriotic elements. The University’s AP logo is situated at the bottom of the coin. The words, “All Hail to Those Who Serve,” were crafted from the lyrics of APSU’s alma mater and from the military’s customs and courtesies to welcome those who have joined the unit.

The other side of the coin shows an image of the clock tower atop the Browning Administration Building, generally considered the emblem of APSU. The year APSU was founded, 1927, also is noted on the bottom of the piece.

The military service members and veterans receiving the coin will graduate from APSU on Friday, Dec. 9.