On Friday, September 6, a crowd of 160, along with the Estero High School’s ROTC Color Guard and the Naples Concert Band, gathered for the dedication ceremony of the Veterans Pavilion at Florida Gulf Coast University.
President Wilson Bradshaw said he there was a need to show appreciation for the veterans at FGCU. “Our students stood up and spoke up,” Bradshaw said. “And what they said echoed our thoughts.”
Former Board of Trustees member and Army veteran Edward Morton invited the audience to travel back in time to Valley Forge, Pa., where U.S. soldiers fought for the right to govern themselves.
“They believed in that, they bled for that, they died for that,” Morton said. He described veterans as men and women who “typify the word courage.”
The pavilion cost $210,000 to construct. It was created to serve as both an amphitheater and as a place of refl ection. Three FGCU student body presidents — Lauren Schuetz, Peter Cuderman and current president Juan Cubillo — are credited to have helped with the preparation of the pavilion. US Navy veteran Timothy S. Tyler was awarded a medal for his commitment to this project, and Robert Green of campus police, whom Bradshaw described as the “catalyst of the entire project,” was also an infl uential advocate for the project.
At the reception, Green told Eagle News about Campus Veterans, the constituency he founded in 2007. He said university veterans clubs at most universities are only for students who have served because student funding is not allowed to be used for non-students. When Green founded Campus Veterans, he said he knew it needed to exist not just for students, but for veterans among the faculty and staff as well. President Bradshaw agreed, and in the honor of the 250 veterans at FGCU, the idea of the pavilion was born.
Green works in the information booth at the school entrance where he interacts with faculty, students and visitors daily. Because of this, he urges the idea of mutual respect among members of the University. “We need to respect one another,” Green said. “We have too many cultures here not to respect one another. I’m gonna be smiling and waving so much happier now.”
The current president of the Campus Veterans club, Dr. Christine Wright-Isak, feels this pavilion is so important.
“There are so many veterans coming back with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Wright-Isak said. “It’s very good for veterans to see that they still have work to do.”
The event was attended by many veterans and their family members, along with several Florida state representatives, including Ray Rodriguez, Dane Eagle and Matt Hudson.