Direct of Veteran Services Ed Garza delivers his acceptance speech on May 25.Direct of Veteran Services Ed Garza delivers his acceptance speech on May 25.

Concordia University Wisconsin is the recipient of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Veteran University Partner of the Year award.

The award was one of five Veteran Business Awards given out this year. The awards recognize leading veteran-owned and veteran-friendly businesses and organizations, and their contributions to Wisconsin’s veteran business community.

CUW Director of Veteran Services Ed Garza accepted the award Thursday, May 25, on behalf of the university, during the Wisconsin Veterans Business Conference. The second annual conference was held on Concordia’s Mequon campus.

After accepting the award, Garza addressed the crowd of some 150 veterans and veteran-supporters who gathered for an awards luncheon, the culminating portion of the May 25 conference.

In his address, Garza detailed some of the successes of CUW’s veteran services program since its start two years ago: More than 400 veterans have obtained degrees from Concordia or are currently attending CUW, and the university’s veteran retention rate is at 90 percent.

“One of the biggest plugs for us is that we value the education and training that veterans bring to the table when they come to Concordia,” Garza said, referencing Concordia’s generous credit transfer policy that honors veterans’ on-the-job military training and experience with up to 63 credits. “I’m very proud of my team, and we’re honored to accept this award.”

The luncheon began with the ceremonial presentation of colors by American Legion Post 288 of Cedarburg, and an address from Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Saul Newton. Keynote speakers were Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and President and Chief Beer Merchant of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company Dick Leinenkugel.

The other Veteran Business Award winners to receive recognition on Thursday were Spa Massage on the Go (Veteran Owned Business of the Year); Float Milwaukee (Veteran Friendly Business of the Year); USO Wisconsin (Veteran Nonprofit Partner of the Year); and PNC Bank (Veteran Corporate Partner of the Year).

Prior to the awards luncheon, conference attendees had opportunity to attend one of several workshops featuring experts and leaders in entrepreneurship, business development, hiring and retention and community engagement, or interact with the more than 80 vendors representing veteran-owned and veteran-friendly businesses from across Wisconsin that lined the hallways outside Concordia’s Siebert Dining Hall.

— 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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