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APSU's Military and Veterans Affairs Division hosts Veterans Celebration Week to mark anniversary

By: Zoe Huffman November 14, 2023

Wilma Newton cuts a cake to celebrate the anniversary of APSU's Newton Military Family Resource Center.
Wilma Newton celebrates the NMFRC's anniversary. | Photo by Madison Casey

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay State University’s Military and Veterans Affairs Division (MVAD) celebrated six months on campus with Veterans Celebration Week from Nov. 6-11. The series of events welcomed Austin Peay’s military-affiliated students and invited them to take advantage of the division’s resources with celebrations, lunch-ins, an appreciation game and more. 

As part of the festivities, the MVAD hosted a six-month celebration and birthday party for the Newton Military Family Resource Center on Nov. 8. The event featured food prepared by Austin Peay’s culinary program, a raffle and appearances by the Gov, Austin Peay President Mike Licari and Wilma Newton, the Newton Center’s primary funder. 

The Newton Center hosts many events and activities throughout the year and has become a central place for military-affiliated students to get involved on campus. 

“They're doing exactly what I envisioned that they would do,” Newton said. “They're really putting the building to good use. My greatest fear was that it would just be a building and other departments would start using it, but [Military Services] have clearly only used it for what it was meant.”

Other events hosted throughout the week featured exciting activities for all Austin Peay students, but the Military and Veterans Affairs Division’s primary focus is to support military-affiliated students on and off campus. That includes active-duty service members, retirees and their families. 

MVAD serves those populations through both Austin Peay’s Clarksville campus and the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell, ultimately supporting deployed students all over the world. 

“When we service students at our Fort Campbell Center or at our Newton Military Family Resource Center we know the impact and the positive influence that is being carried with them to their next duty station,” said Marisa Roberts, MVAD’s director of recruitment, communication and marketing. 

One of the Military and Veterans Affairs Division’s biggest priorities has been to provide an inclusive environment for veterans, active-duty service members and their families. 

Student veterans often feel a sense of separation when first beginning their educational journey, and the division is working to combat this by reinforcing a sense of family. 

APSU hosts Veterans Celebration Week.
The NMFRC offers gifts to community members. | Photo by Ally Shemwell.

“The most rewarding thing is the atmosphere that [student veterans] feel …  I tell them when they come [to Austin Peay] for the first time, and they're brand new out of the service, that their biggest hurdle to success on this campus is going to be the feeling of separation,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Walt Lord, Austin Peay’s vice president of Military and Veterans Affairs. “They've lost their tribe, but I tell them, ‘you haven't lost your tribe. We're here. We look a little different now, but we're here.’”

The division is also largely focused on supporting students throughout their collegiate careers to ensure their success at Austin Peay. 

“Twenty-six percent of our student body is military affiliated, so there's an enormous component of what we do at Austin Peay,” Licari said. “It is something that is a unique positive feature for Austin Peay. For me, it's a great way to seize an opportunity that we have that will make us great, different and unique while serving a whole lot of students all at once. It's one of the most strategically important relationships.”

Since its establishment in July, the Military and Veterans Affairs Division has continued to progress and excel as a united front for student-centered military support services. 

“For years, APSU has had a good military foundation, but what has been so cool about uniting is that we are helping each other improve our processes and procedures,” Roberts said. “[We’re] uniting our voices to create a bigger impact on the University and our student body.” 

Austin Peay’s Military services are already the leading example in Tennessee; however, MVAD still hopes to  exceed expectations and continue to raise the bar in terms of excellence. 

“We are already the gold standard for the state,” Roberts said. “I think you could ask any of us from the division and we would say our goal is to take it further and raise our voice to the next level of nationwide awareness.”

The Military and Veterans Affairs Division will continue hosting events until the end of the year. From 6-8 p.m. Dec. 6, they are partnering with The Adult, Nontraditional and Transfer Student Center (ANTS) for the End of Term Celebration at Magic Wheels. From 5-6:30 p.m. Dec. 13, they will host the Military and Veterans Graduate Recognition Ceremony in the MUC Ballroom for ROTC, veterans and military students. These events are open to all Austin Peay students. 

The Military and Veterans Affairs Division is a reorganization of multiple departments: The Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell, Newton Military Family Resource Center, Veterans Education Benefits, Career Services, Veterans Upward Bound and VetSuccess on Campus

For more information about the Military and Veterans Affairs Division, visit their website at https://www.apsu.edu/mva/

You can also visit their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @apsumva or reach out to them via email.