Above the miniature red, white and blue flags staked in the ground, the booming voices of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) members rang out to students passing by. “One dollar! Hug a vet, help a vet!”
Students walking by the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11 had the opportunity to donate money to the SVA and receive a hug from a veteran.
All of the money collected is being given to Sergeant Zach Stinson, a Marine who had his legs blown off above the knee by an IED in Afghanistan. Sgt. Stinson’s wife, Tesa, is a student at SU. As of Thursday, Sept. 12, SVA raised $1,610.
Organizations like SVA work to help veterans in any way they can, whether that be through fundraising or a few positive words. Despite the blazing sunlight, members of SVA were welcoming donations and conversation with an upbeat attitude and plenty of smiles. Throughout the academic year, SVA hosts various fundraisers like hot dog sales and a golf tournament.
The three to four thousand flags lining the lawn outside the library created a powerful image for Raiders as they walked by to give veterans their support. Four years ago when SVA started placing American flags in the ground, each flag represented a person lost to the War on Terror. Before the “hug-a-vet” fundraiser began this morning, PFC Chris Littlejohn stopped to watch the rising sun hit the flags. When asked what he was thinking about, PFC Littlejohn replied, “Life –how quick it can come and go.”
A non-traditional freshman student, PFC Littlejohn is majoring in Informational Technology for business education. Like many people around the world, PFC Littlejohn took a few moments of his time today to recall his memories from 2001. “I felt like it was a movie, it was so unreal.”
View photos of SVA’s fundraiser here
SU junior and Army National Guard member, specialist Josh McMillen talks about what the Hug a Vet event: