MVRC ushers in the fall semester with welcome back barbecue
By Jamie Calvert
The University of West Florida’s Military and Veteran Resource Center held their annual back to school barbecue on Thursday, Aug. 30, kicking off a new semester with delicious food and fun.
“I want our veterans and our military members to know that they are welcome,” Marc Churchwell, the MVRC’s Director of Operations said. “I’ve seen warriors come back to campus and they sometimes feel intimidated.”
About 24 percent of UWF’s student population consists of active duty military, veteran, reserves or dependents. This past spring, UWF was ranked fifth in the nation for military-friendly schools, the tenth year in a row being named. Churchwell hopes that this back to school barbecue will help our military students feel part of campus life.
“This event is my welcome to the campus to make them feel comfortable, make them feel part of the population,” Churchwell said. “This event has such a good turnout of people from all over from deans, faculty and students. It’s their chance to feel included.”
The MVRC was also presented with two awards from the Pensacola Military Order of the Purple Heart, Pensacola chapter. The awards, two plaques and two quilts, were for outstanding service to the local military community and their families.
“We just want the department to know how much we value their hard work,” Zina Steinsiek, the Junior VP of the Order said after the presentation ceremony. “They work hard, they provide great resources and the students that come here and benefit from it are lucky to have these people.”
Students came from all over campus, drawn by the sweet and smoky scents and the music that floated through the air.
Though the barbecue was the main attraction, most of the attendees could not resist the dunk tank. Lori Milkeris, assistant director and a veteran’s counselor at the MVRC, was in the tank for most of the day, volunteering herself for the good of the event.
“My role today is dunking booth extraordinaire, to make money for donations,” Milkeris said. “But when I’m not here, I assist the veterans, advocate, mentor, help them with tutoring, case management, anything they could possibly need assistance with. I just want to let them know they’re not alone and I can help them out in any way.”
To learn more about UWF’s Military and Veteran Resource Center, visit https://uwf.edu/offices/military-veteran-resource-center