Dartmouth celebrates Veterans Day amid changes in support mechanisms

by Soleil Gaylord | 11/19/19 2:05am

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Members of Dartmouth's ROTC held a formal flag drill and retreat ceremony on Veterans Day.

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth

Last week, Dartmouth hosted a number of events in recognition of Veterans Day, including a birthday ball for the United States Marine Corps, a remembrance breakfast, a panel on the history of Dartmouth’s veterans, a formal Drill and Retreat ceremony and a presentation by Association of the U.S. Army CEO General Carter Ham. These celebrations come after changes to Dartmouth’s recruitment and support of veterans — namely, the discontinuation of the College’s partnership with the Posse Foundation.

On Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, these public events took place at various locations across campus. Ham’s presentation, which was attended by about 40 students, faculty and community members, addressed his work, foreign policy issues and the role of veterans in society today. Other events included faculty lectures, undergraduate research and an alumni veterans panel discussion that delved into the history of the College’s student-veterans and the wars they participated in. 

In 2019, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Dartmouth second in its “Best Schools for Student Veterans.” According to assistant undergraduate dean of student veterans Anne Hudak, the ranking is justified, because the College’s involvement in supporting veterans goes beyond an annual celebration of Veteran’s Day. Hudak said that Dartmouth has continuously worked to support and honor veterans. 

“On campus, we try to recognize those who have served not just within our community, but those who have served as a whole,” Hudak said. “There is a network on campus that is dedicated to helping veterans succeed both academically and personally. This network includes folks from many areas around campus that most students utilize, and folks who specifically know and understand the veteran experience.”

Hudak added that she believes the Dartmouth community is genuinely invested in the appreciation and support of its veterans. 

“I think we care for and respect our veterans and sincerely want to see them succeed,” Hudak said. 

The College partners with the United States Marine Corps Leadership Scholar Program in helping Marines pursue a college education after their service, according to Dartmouth’s admissions website. 

Additionally, beginning in 2016, Dartmouth joined an effort alongside Wesleyan University and Vassar College in collaboration with the Posse Foundation to admit a “posse” of 10 veterans yearly, whereby recipient veterans would receive a full four-year financial aid package. However, Dartmouth’s last “posse” class was admitted with the Class of 2022, and the College has since decided to pursue veteran recruiting independent of any organization, according to College spokesperson Diana Lawrence. Lawrence added that Dartmouth is still committed to veteran support by increasing financial and academic support for first-year undergraduate and transfer student-veterans. 

“We have enhanced our direct recruiting of veteran students through admissions,” Lawrence wrote in an email statement. “We have also increased advising and programming resources through the Undergraduate Deans Office to support student veterans individually and as a group.”

Brandyn Humberstone ’22, a student-veteran and the president of the Student Veterans Association at Dartmouth, was admitted to the College through the Posse Foundation. Humberstone said he is unsure how the College’s discontinuation of the Posse program will affect long-term veteran admissions.  

“I am keeping a close eye on how the College chooses to address veteran enrollment,” Humberstone said. “Unfortunately, the number of veterans admitted with the ’23s was lower than the previous years when the school was partnered with the Posse Foundation.”

Humberstone said he is hopeful that Dartmouth will continue its work to recruit and support veterans. 

“I really hope Dartmouth continues to put in effort to increase the number of veterans that they admit each year,” he said.

Despite his uncertainty surrounding veteran admissions, Humberstone said his experience at Dartmouth as a student-veteran has been a good one. 

“I would say that my experience has been really positive,” he said. “Dartmouth has a lot of great students who care and who have a lot to contribute to both conversations and interactions.” 

Humberstone added that he believes Dartmouth students and faculty appreciate the unique perspective of veterans.

“People notice that I am older,” he said. “The professors seem to react really well — we bring something that is different than what they usually see.”

Nataly De Freitas ’20, vice president of the SVA, said she also came to Dartmouth through the Posse program. 

De Freitas said the SVA has collaborated with veterans from other colleges and worked to create a veteran community on Dartmouth’s campus.

Earlier in the term, the SVA hosted the Ivy League Veteran’s Council, which facilitated discussions about the issues that face student-veterans, according to De Freitas. 

De Freitas said the SVA has multiple means of influence on campus. 

“Over the years, the [SVA] has put on different community service events and a 9/11 remembrance event,” she said. “More recently, we’ve hosted community dinners and social events. We just really try to provide a space for veteran students to interact with each other and create a sense of community.” 

The College administration has spearheaded initiatives to recruit veterans as well. Outside its partnership with various universities and organizations, Dartmouth’s Office of Admissions is actively involved in the Service2School’s VetLink program, which offers admission counseling to veterans hoping to attend the College. 

History professor Paul Musselwhite, who spoke at the College’s panel on the history of veterans this year, said Dartmouth has been significantly involved in veteran affairs for decades.

“Dartmouth has not always been involved in recruiting veterans, and the College’s relationship to the military has clearly ebbed and flowed over time,” Musselwhite said. “Veterans and the ROTC program were a big part of campus life during World War II and in the 20 years afterwards, but a decline was marked after tensions over Vietnam.” 

However, Dartmouth’s lull was brief — the Vietnam War did not ultimately hinder Dartmouth’s efforts to support veterans, according to Musselwhite.

“The College’s recruitment of veterans resumed significantly in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Musselwhite said.

De Freitas, who also spoke on the panel, said Dartmouth has had unique historical involvement with veterans.

“Post-World War II, there were a lot of veteran students,” she said. “In fact, through the Korean War years, it was very common to have veteran undergraduates at the College.”

As veterans returned home from overseas with spouses and children, they needed accommodations for housing, and the College worked to aid veterans in this transition, according to De Freitas.

“Dartmouth built a temporary sachem village to accommodate veteran-students and their families,” De Freitas said. “The College made really great accommodations.”

De Freitas said she is optimistic about the future of veterans at Dartmouth.

“I am very glad that Dartmouth has expressed a commitment to increasing the number of student veterans on campus, and I hope to see that commitment to veterans continue and especially for the student veteran population at Dartmouth to grow,” she said.