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Veterans Day provides an important opportunity to show appreciation and support for those who wore our nation’s uniform. At the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, thanking a veteran for their loyal service and sacrifices might be easier than you think.

According to Timber Smith, coordinator for the veterans resource centers for the Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Fox Cities campuses, there are many dedicated individuals on our campuses we can thank.

“Last time we asked individuals to self-identify, we had 27 faculty and staff members identify as veterans,” he said. “We also have roughly 435 student veterans and current service members utilizing education benefits.”

Two veterans who have made an impact on our country and our campus are current students Stephanie Hartleben of Seymour and Travis Peterson of Mora, Minnesota.

Hartleben honored her family legacy as a sixth-generation service member, serving two years in the U.S. Army as a 68W (military occupation specialty for combat medic) at Fort Bliss in Texas and at Landstul, Germany. Her proudest accomplishment while serving – being a part of something bigger than herself.

Still driven by a desire to serve others, Hartleben is pursuing a degree in human services leadership with aspirations of becoming a program coordinator for a veteran outreach service or advocacy agency to enhance the quality of programming offered to veterans.

“Professor Mylia Yang was a big help to me when I was struggling to find the right path for my career,” Hartleben said. “She helped me recognize that my children are my constant motivation and they see me as a warrior who will stop at nothing to help others. Our veterans deserve the best quality of life ­– if my work helps even one veteran then I have done my part to give back.”

Hartleben can be found at the Veteran Resource Center on the UWO Oshkosh campus. She maintains the office space and coffee bar and assists veterans and their dependents with benefits. In addition, she participates in the Student Veteran Association–helping out with fundraising events like the upcoming Turkey Shoot.

Peterson joined the Army National Guard with the knowledge it was a way for him to see more of the world but also give him the ability to stay close to home. He served six years with the 34th infantry division of the Brigade Special Troops Battalion as an information technology specialist. Peterson spent a majority of his service in Minnesota with a deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, for nine months.

Peterson echoes Hartleben’s pride of being involved with something bigger than himself and says being deployed to Kuwait was one of the hardest challenges he had to face.

“My time in the service taught me strength and resiliency,” Peterson said. “I am grateful to my fellow service members who became a second family to me. Through that experience I learned that I am capable of much more than I thought was possible in the past and know I am stronger because of it.”

When Peterson considered returning to school, he wanted a different path from his previous work in information technology. With a long-time interest in psychology and a desire to be a therapist, he looked for a school that had a positive campus experience and found a perfect fit at UW Oshkosh.

“I look forward to using my degree to help others heal from psychological trauma from the past and help them move forward in their life,” he said, “and find a new positive view of the world.”

Peterson currently works in the Veterans Resource Center at the UW Oshkosh Fond du Lac campus. He maintains the space, helping fellow veterans understand their benefits and give them information for resources they can utilize. He also helps coordinate veteran-related events on campus, including a Halloween candy drive and the recent veterans’ appreciation lunch.

The Veterans Resource Center is dedicated to providing support for military personnel, including active duty, veterans, Guard members, Reservists and dependents of veterans on all three campuses of UW Oshkosh. This week, student veterans and the greater campus community are invited to join in celebrating Veterans Week with the following activities:

Monday, Nov. 11
Veterans Resource Center Open House | 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Dempsey 130)
Masculinity Monday Veteran Panel | 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Reeve 221)

Tuesday, Nov. 12
Turkey Shoot | 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. (Kolf 163)
Level Up! | 6 – 8 p.m. (Women’s Center)

Wednesday, Nov. 13
Thank you for your service Veteran panel | 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Reeve 221)
WOC Ally Wednesday | 5-6 p.m. (Women’s Center)

Thursday, Nov. 14
American Red Cross-Mind Body Workshop | 1-2 p.m. (Reeve 220)

Friday, Nov. 15
Veteran Appreciation Lunch | Noon-2 p.m. (Dempsey 130)