CUW’s Director of Veterans Services Ed GarzaCUW’s Director of Veterans Services Ed Garza

On November 11, communities nationwide will honor service members in myriad ways as an expression of appreciation for the sacrifices made. Concordia University Wisconsin will join in the celebration with its own slate of commemorations leading up to the day.

With more than 400 service members currently enrolled at Concordia, the day becomes especially meaningful for the university community, says Ed Garza, director of veteran services at Concordia.

“We’re extremely proud to serve 410 veterans on campus, at our centers, and online,” Garza says. “It should never be taken for granted the sacrifices that they’ve made in service to our country. We’re honored here at Concordia to assist them on their road to graduation.”

To kick off the Veterans Day commemorations, Concordia’s Veterans Services Department will host its annual Military Appreciation football game on Nov. 4, in tandem with Concordia’s Homecoming football game. Veterans Post 288 will display the colors during halftime, and veterans may enjoy a free cookout prior to the game at the entrance of the stadium.

On Nov. 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., community members are invited to enjoy a free lunch while listening to panelists discuss the successes, hurdles and resources available to veterans looking to start a business or project. Panelists will include:

  • Dan Buttery, former assistant deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Saul Newton, executive director of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce
  • Neil Willenson, co-founder of Camp Hometown Heroes, a national summer camp for children of fallen U.S. service members

This lunchtime talk, which will be moderated by Garza, is one of several talks happening throughout the week at Concordia’s Centers as part of Wisconsin Startup Week.

Reservations are needed by Nov. 1. Reserve your spot here.

On Nov. 9, Concordia’s psychology students have organized a first-time event: “Host a Hero for Lunch.” Grade school students from HOPE Fidelis will honor dozens of veterans from CUW and the community with tributary artwork and messages, as well as lunch on Concordia’s campus.

Finally, on Nov. 10, a special military chapel message will be shared at 9:30 a.m., and immediately following, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend a veteran’s reception in Rincker stairway. The Concordia community is invited to demonstrate their appreciation of CUW’s service members by writing a message on a banner that will be displayed at various veterans events throughout the 2017-18 school year.

Concordia’s commitment to veterans is also exemplified year-round through its Veterans Services Department offerings to military students.

In March 2015, CUW became the first university in the state to establish a Veteran’s Post on campus. Since then, the university has served a growing number of service men and women.

To date, there are 136 veterans who have obtained degrees from CUW, with 410 currently enrolled. Since 2015, the program has seen a 153 percent increase in enrollment. Veterans Services also celebrates impressive retention numbers: 91% retention of veteran graduate students, 83 percent retention of traditional undergraduates, and 100 percent retention of adult learners.

Concordia accepts more military transcript transfer credits than any other university in the state, and eases veterans’ tuition burden by participating in the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps fund tuition beyond the yearly federal tuition cap.

For Concordia’s impact in the community, the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce bestowed the inaugural Veteran University Partner of the Year award to Concordia this past summer.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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