Light rain showers and sweeping gray skies failed to put a damper on this year’s Veterans Day celebration, which consisted of a series of honorary events hosted by Cornell University’s Veterans Colleague Network Group (VCNG).
The celebration focused on a central theme—continuing to serve after the military. Mark Minton, President of the Cornell Undergraduate Veterans Association, was invited to speak about his journey to Cornell and share his thoughts on the topic.
“Veterans often pursue career fields and opportunities which allow them to improve the lives of others. They frequently place the community over themselves and strive towards the greater good even in the face of adversity,” Minton said.
Minton is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies after joining the Cornell community in 2020 after thirteen years of active military service in the United States Army.
“After leaving military service, Veterans without a support network often struggle to find their place in larger society. The longer the period of service, the more difficult the transition may be,” Minton said, highlighting the importance of community. “As many Veterans choose to take advantage of their GI Bill benefits and attend higher education, it is essential that colleges and universities foster a network of personnel who can support and provide resources.”
The Veterans Colleague Network Group serves as an excellent resource for veterans and military personnel to connect across the university. This year, they presented their inaugural Cornell Veterans Continuation of Service Award to two recipients. The award celebrates veterans who have continued to serve after their military service by giving back to other veterans or making outstanding contributions to the Cornell community.
The award was presented to Jase Baese and Jeramy Kruser who both embody the spirit of the award by serving as role models and mentors to others, enhancing the quality of the campus for the veteran community, and advancing opportunities and access for veterans.
“I first met Jase as the captain of the Ithaca chapter of Team Red, White and Blue (RWB), a position he held for 8 years. He set up events every year bringing together area veterans. He is an inaugural member of the Veterans Colleague Network Group and is still a part of the VCNG leadership. Jase regularly volunteers his time to serve on committees and to help with other veteran projects. He has been helping develop and lead the Cornell Memorial Tour for several years now. Jase is always looking for new ways to make a positive impact and to overcome obstacles. He coordinates well with others, giving them opportunities to serve and to build their sense of belonging,” said Randi Rainbow, nominator of the award.
“Jeramy is a warm-hearted and continually service-orientated individual who has shown initiative in taking on roles to support his community. As a Cornell staff member and a veteran, he has served through the Employee Assembly, the Veterans Colleague Network Group, and Team Red White and Blue. Jeramy approaches each undertaking with enthusiasm, sharing his expertise while humbly listening to others. For a number of years, he has supported the POW/MIA Watchfire and spearheaded tours of the war memorials for alumni, community members, and other veterans. Jeramy never hesitates to reach out to someone in need and offer a helping hand. His kindness, humility and empathy make him an ideal candidate for the Continuation of Service Award,” Emily Franco said.
Both Baese and Kruser received engraved plaques to commemorate their efforts for the Cornell community.
Leading up to Veterans Day, the VCNG partnered with the Johnson Museum of Art to host local artist Nathan Lewis from Out of Step Press to learn how to transform military uniforms into handmade paper.
During a four-day event earlier this fall, participants cut up old uniforms, walked through the pulping process, and pulled sheets from the resulting mixture, culminating in the creation of booklets from the dried paper.
Lewis is a part of a larger Veterans Arts Movement that aims to encourage dialogue, creativity, and understanding surrounding military service. Each of the sessions that Lewis facilitated was filled with stories, remembrance, and artistic exchange between the attendees.
This year’s Veterans Day celebration demonstrated a dedication to raising awareness around pertinent topics while also honoring veterans who continue to make a difference at Cornell.
For more information about the Veterans Colleague Network Group, visit https://hr.cornell.edu/colleague-network-groups/veterans-cng.
Grace DePaull is the Diversity & Inclusion Media Assistant with the Department of Inclusion and Belonging in the Division of Human Resources.