Student Veterans of Winthrop recently received a Veteran’s Day surprise in the form of an anonymous $35,000 donation.
“So far, they have purchased a couch and television for the Student Veterans Center, which is located in the Bancroft basement, to make it a more inviting and comfortable respite for their peers,” said Nicole Chisari, the communications coordinator at Winthrop.
The organization also purchased t-shirts for their annual Veteran’s Day ceremony on Nov. 9. Student Veterans of Winthrop and Military, Adult and Transfer Services at Winthrop co-sponsored the event. There were guest speakers -- Winthrop President Dan Mahony, retired-Col. Sean Mulcahy and author Nicholas Warr. There also was a color guard and other festivities.
The donor wished to remain anonymous.
Established on Winthrop’s campus in 2010, the Student Veterans of Winthrop provides a support network for veterans and their families.
“They also educate the campus community about their peers’ experiences, and work with the administration to better address the needs of our current and future student veterans,” Chisari said.
Sonya Sawyer, the vice president of the Student Veterans of Winthrop, served as a combat medic for four years in Afghanistan. She started her studies a few semesters ago, after settling down with her husband, at Winthrop as a nutrition major.
“To have a university that is so supportive of their student population is priceless,” Sawyer said. “The Adult and Military Transfer Offices were responsible for doing all the detail work and inner-workings of the ceremony to help us publicize the event.”
Sawyer said she was speechless when she heard of the donation.
“It’s so impactful and meaningful ... We’re able to dedicate much more of our energy to improving our quality of life on campus,” she said.
Nicholas Warr was the featured speaker at the ceremony. He is the author of book about military service, “Phase Line Green.” Warr, who served in the Vietnam war, talked about his experiences in the military from his training days to watching the fall of Saigon on television. He was honorably discharged in 1970.
“One thing I learned about being in the military, and being a veteran, every person in the military is a human being first. Flesh and blood. And war is a tough training ground,” Warr said.
He said he never suffered physical injuries, but had to “do some healing” in another way.
“I don’t have a wound on my body. I have a wound on my soul,” Warr said.
Winthrop history major Andrew Russell said he was in tears a couple times during the ceremony.
He is a new member of the Student Veterans of Winthrop. Medically discharged in 2003, Russell said he was in day six of training when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened.
“Being a veteran is everything,” he said. “You can’t put into words what it means to be a veteran... I see these gentlemen in the Color Guard, and I can’t help but wish I was still in the service today.”