The five days of events kicked off Nov. 2 with a motorcycle escort ride, guiding the American Veteran Traveling Tribute to the Auraria Campus from Freedom Harley Davidson at 8020 W. Colfax Ave. The wall set-up began Nov. 3 in the Lawrence Street Mall between St. Cajetan’s and the Plaza Building.
The events coincide with the Military Friendly School award, given to CU Denver by G.I. Jobs magazine. The university’s number of military related students has doubled in the past year, jumping from 300-350 in spring 2010 to more than 700 this fall.
“The VA is predicting the veteran student population will triple over the next three years,” pushing CU Denver’s enrollment to 2,000 by 2014, said Cameron Cook, Veteran Student Services director. “The Military Friendly School award shows that as a university we are being proactive in the preparation and taking care of this rapidly expanding population.”
The award recognizes that CU Denver has made strides in growing veteran enrollment, programs geared to military related students and the February 2010 opening of an Office of Veteran Student Services, Cook said.
“Our mission is to ensure that we do everything possible to ease the transition from the military to college,” he said. “Being rated in the top 15 percent of schools in the nation is a testament that we are taking care of those who have served, are serving, and the families who supported them.”
Of CU Denver’s 700 military related students, 10 to 15 percent are listed as Active Duty, Reservist or National Guard. More veterans are expected to enroll in universities in the coming years as troops return from overseas and the military scales down in size.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 tripled the amount of federal money devoted to the previous GI college education bill. In Colorado, qualifying veterans are granted immediate in-state student status for tuition purposes, regardless of previous residency. The Post 9/11 bill gives them a monthly stipend of $1,400, $1,000 a year for books and full in-state tuition.
The G.I. Jobs magazine extensively surveyed CU Denver’s program before granting the Military Friendly School award. More than 8,000 schools nationwide were surveyed.
“It actually takes a lot of depth,” Cook said. “They definitely want to know a lot of detail. It is an honor.”
The CU Denver Veteran Student Services is co-sponsoring the Traveling Wall events with Metropolitan State College’s Office of Student Affairs.
Other events as part of the American Traveling Tribute:
- 8 a.m.-8 p.m., locator computers and other services available to the public; 9 a.m., opening ceremony with former Rep. Joe Rice as the emcee. Keynote speaker will be former Army staff sergeant Salvatore Giunta, the first non-posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. Other guest speakers will include CU Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow; Major General H. Michael Edwards, adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard [www.co.ng.mil]; and Metro State Provost Vicki Golich.
- 7 p.m., “58,272” performed by the Mile High Players of the Mile High GIO Forum. This dramatic theatrical performance depicts scenes from Vietnam and commemorates the life and times of our soldiers in the war. The show is free and seating is available on a first come, first served basis in the Tivoli Turnhalle [www.tivoli.org] on the Auraria Campus. Show starts at 7 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
- 8 a.m.-8 p.m., locator computers and other services available to the public.
- 8 a.m., ROTC 5K, followed by awards ceremony.
- 10 a.m., Denver Veterans Day Parade, downtown Denver.
- 3 p.m., 10th annual Denver Veterans Day Celebration and Fireworks. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. with music by the Denver School of the Arts Chorale Choir and Reveille. Fireworks will launch at dark.
- 11 a.m., closing ceremony.