When Keith Williams first came to USC, he said he immediately noticed that he was older than most of his peers by 10 to 12 years. He said he had a difficult time making friends and struggled to relate to the other students around him.
A six-year veteran of the United States Air Force, Williams is also a junior majoring in political science and is currently serving as assistant director of Diversity Affairs for USG. He has spearheaded the upcoming events that will take place today in celebration of Veterans Day.
“It’s important to recognize what all the veterans have done and sacrificed for this country,” Williams said. “But at the same time we want to bring awareness to the fact that there are some very specific issues, both on the academic level and also in regards to mental health that need to be addressed.”
Yellow ribbons will be handed out to students and red, white, and blue ribbons will be given to veterans throughout campus on Veterans Day. There will also be an appreciation reception for veterans and non-veterans. The reception will feature a live band and a speech from Kevin Starr, a professor of history at USC and also the winner of the 2006 Natural Humanities Medal.
“This event can create push us in the right direction for recognizing our veterans and appreciating them more,” said Liz Trower, senior director of communications for USG. “Even if students don’t walk up to veterans and thank them for their service, we hope that they will at least start thinking about the veterans on campus and how they’ve contributed.”
The number of veterans attending USC has risen from 80 to 375 in the past three years, Williams said. With this increase, there has been a greater need to provide services specific to veterans such as lifestyle changes and mental health support.
Trower said that the presence of veterans on campus is an “asset because a lot of them provide a really different insight in most classes than the typical student” and that it is important that they feel appreciated.
The Veterans Day Appreciation Reception will be at the University Club from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.