Dear Friend of Indiana University,
Today (Nov. 11) is Veterans Day, the day as a nation we honor the service and sacrifice of veterans from all the armed services. It also marks the anniversary of the end of World War I—“the war to end all wars”—in which thousands of Hoosiers served gallantly and selflessly.
Flora Ruth was one such veteran. She joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1918 in the waning months of World War I after earning her bachelor’s and nursing degrees from IU, sadly dying just months later at a military camp from appendicitis.
Fellow Hoosier graduate Lorena Ivy Denger was a member of the Women’s Land Army in World War I and later served her country as a nurse in both the Naval Reserve and the Army Medical Corps.
Edna Henry, a recognized expert in the nascent field of hospital social work who earned her doctorate from IU in 1917, was recruited by none other than the Surgeon General himself for the U.S. Army to establish a rehabilitation program at 29 U.S. Army hospitals for wounded soldiers returning from battle.
In addition to their devotion to country and their ties to IU, these three trailblazing women share another distinction. As of today, they and 27 other IU women who served the U.S. war effort in World War I will have their names added to IU's Golden Book, which commemorates IU alumni known to have served in the military dating back to the War of 1812. The ceremony is one of the highlights of Veterans Day activities across IU today.
Fittingly it was an IU employee and military veteran, John Summerlot, who discovered the omission of these women during the course of his doctoral research, in which he found that the contributions of women during World War I were not always officially recognized by their respective military branches. In some cases, administrative oversight at the university led to the women we honor today being left out of the Golden Book, which resides in the Indiana Memorial Union, until now.
In all cases, we are extremely proud to honor the military contributions and legacies of these daughters of IU, just as we continue to honor our active service members and recent veterans today. More than 2,500 active military members and veterans are enrolled at IU this fall, joining 1,600 family members of military personnel taking classes across our campuses.
Veterans services personnel support IU’s military family ably across all of our campuses, including at our offices on our Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses. In fact, IU—which notably is home to the first campus-based American Legion Post in Indianapolis—has dramatically increased its veterans services staffing over the past few years. In late 2012 IU designated, for the first time, a university military and veterans services coordinator to lead our work to better serve this population through greater intercampus coordination and new university-wide initiatives.
Through these efforts, IU provides a range of services to its military students and student veterans, from academic support to assistance with processing their educational benefits to distance learning options. For example, the Office of Veterans Services on the IU Bloomington campus is this year piloting a workshop designed to meet the academic, financial and social needs of these students.
In addition, IU was a strong proponent of the “Combat to College” legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly this year, which provides student veterans with a range of long-term educational, career, alumni and counseling services. The university is currently building the resources necessary to meet its commitment to student veterans under the Combat to College program.
At the heart of all our work in this area is a consistent desire to provide our student veterans, as well as their families, a welcoming place to receive their education and effectively navigate the sometimes-difficult transition from military service to civilian life. Through it all, we want them to complete their IU experience feeling honored and respected for their contributions—both as students and as military veterans.
I could not be more proud of IU’s commitment to its student veterans, our veteran and active duty employees and of the nearly two centuries of military service provided to this country by thousands of IU alumni. As we pause today as a nation to recognize the extraordinary contributions made by our military veterans to our nation, let me add a personal note of deepest appreciation to our veterans and their families around the world on behalf of an eternally grateful IU community.
Michael A. McRobbie