Colorado School of Mines is a historic institution that rooted itself in the story of Colorado long before any of us who currently walk its bricked sidewalks were present. Until the late 70’s, Mines actually required all students to be involved in ROTC, which as we know now, is an optional program for students passionate about joining the United States armed forces. On the other side of a very similar coin, we also have students and families on campus who have already served our nation and have come back to Mines to earn a degree. Since 2016, Mines Veterans Alliance has been dedicated to the support of the veteran community here at Mines. From bimonthly meetings to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits, MVA has a wide reach across campus that many students may not know about. Even though it is fairly new, it has gained prominence due to its significant impact through community service and directed work and advocacy to the first central veteran resource building in the history of Mines.
On Saturday, September 7th, MVA hosted their second annual Heroes Dinner, an event primarily focused on honoring those who have served in the United States military and armed forces. Even in its second year, it has grown tremendously and has become an event that members from across campus get to participate in and celebrate. According to Michael Knight, current student president of MVA, the event was “wildly successful,” with a little bit of stress to plan and execute. The dinner had nearly double the guests compared to the first year, including President Paul Johnson and other officials at Mines in attendance. The Mines ROTC color guard presented the colors to kick off the evening where there was a formal dinner that members of MVA, the Mines community and additional guests where welcomed to attend. As the guest of honor and keynote speaker, highly decorated Captain Andrea Bond shared her experience and story with attendees. Capt Bond served in the first ever all female combat mission over Baghdad, Iraq and piloted one of four Black-hawk helicopters. The Mines Jazz Band also made an appearance during the social hour of the event.
One of the primary goals of this dinner beyond simply honoring those who have served, was to raise money for the MVA Emergency Fund, something established with the goal of helping student veterans on campus and their families if they fall into hard times. Many sponsors helped make this event successful such as Schlumberger, Chevron, and Shell amongst others, and a silent auction helped increase these funds as well. Not only were their corporate sponsors in attendance, but 4 provost who also helped sponsor the event as the highest level, helping contribute to the overall success of the event.
Mines Veterans Alliance is not exclusive based on life experience and welcomes anyone who is interested to come and join their group of engaged students who either have connections personally to veterans or have served in the United States armed forces themselves. Michael Knight says, “We invite anyone who would like to attend or has an interest in working with the MVA, which is open to veterans and civilians alike. Some of our most active members have never served and only want to give back.”
With the dedication of these students, it’s no wonder that they’ve grown so much in the short time Mines Veterans Alliance has been here on campus. Seth Tucker, professor in the HASS department, a veteran, and the faculty advisor for MVA sees the sheer growth of the organization as a beneficial outcome of the positive work they are doing and the high goals they set. With the caliber of people helping to make MVA a success, Seth says “the work I see from our team and our leaders makes me think [that day where we will have Mines as a gold standard of veteran advocacy] will be soon.”
Across the country, many veterans are forgotten about, but Mines Veterans Alliance has been helping to make sure that at Mines, the exact opposite occurs through the work their team does and the impact they set in motion in the community at large.