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Airman 1st Class Austin Rowlands, a student at IPFW who recently returned from eight months’ duty in Afghanistan, speaks at Monday’s flag ceremony.

IPFW lifts up vets, colleagues

Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Members of the Army ROTC Cadre present the colors during IPFW’s annual Veterans Day flag ceremony Monday. The university’s student population of about 14,000 includes 850 veterans, a campus official said.

Amid a glorious display of brilliant autumn colors, about 75 people gathered Monday on the campus of IPFW to pay tribute to area veterans.

Several IPFW faculty members and students who are also veterans took part in a Veterans Day flag ceremony.

The university’s student population of about 14,000 includes 850 veterans, said Jo Vaughan, military student services coordinator.

Almost 30 percent of the veterans on campus are women, she said.

One of those veterans, Denise Buhr, is the reference librarian at the campus library.

Buhr served in the Army from 1974 to 1977. She asked that others be aware of the large number of women who have served their country.

“Unless they were nurses in Vietnam or Korea, the women veterans from the end of World War II to the first Iraq war were kind of lost or forgotten,” Buhr said.

“My plea is that everyone remembers that Mom or Grandma may have been a member of the military, too,” Buhr said. “It’s not always ‘the guys’ who are veterans.”

All veterans need support, and people can help and provide that support in many ways, said David Peterson, IPFW’s director of financial aid.

Peterson outlined ways to help, including volunteering to help veterans through local military organizations and befriending and supporting the spouses and families of those who are deployed. He also urged veterans to share their stories with others.

Peterson is a retired major who spent 24 years in the Army and the Army Reserve in both stateside and overseas deployments.

“The years I was in the Army were the best years of my life,” he said. “It defined the man I became and the man I will be until the day I die.”

Peterson thanked veterans for “suffering the fatigue of war to bring peace.”

At IPFW, military students are served in a very professional manner, said Airman 1st Class Austin Rowlands.

The 22-year-old is an active member of the Air National Guard and attends IPFW, where he is studying criminal justice.

Rowlands graduated from high school in 2009 and immediately joined the Air Force, he said.

Trained for the prestigious Tactical Air Control Party, or TACP, Rowlands spent much of the past two years in southern Afghanistan, providing tactical air support and air strikes for infantry.

As a student, Rowlands still operates with military precision.

“The first couple of weeks, I always arrived too early for my classes,” he said. “I’m still 10 minutes early, but that’s right on time.”

After the presentation and retirement of colors by the IPFW Army ROTC Cadre, refreshments were offered by a student catering group from the school’s Hospitality Management program.