In early May, members of MSOE’s Student Veteran Organization cleaned headstones at the Wood National Cemetery. With Memorial Day just around the corner, the organization wanted to show respect for their fallen brothers and sisters. Other volunteers put flags out during Memorial Day weekend but the MSOE students wanted to do something a little more personal. Matthew Hughes, president of the organization, shared that “Cleaning the headstones allowed us time to reflect on the service of each individual and we all walked away having found a connection.”

Six students and one MSOE faculty member spent three hours cleaning a few hundred out of the 33,000 headstones at the cemetery. Joshua Walling, photographer and organization member, was able to snap a few pictures during the event on Friday. “It was truly an awesome experience to see all the 33,000 headstones that are there. We only made a small dent, maybe only cleaned a couple hundred of them, but it felt good to give back to those who served before me.”

The organization, just over a year old, has 101 members which excludes alumni and faculty. In the past they have partnered with to raise awareness on veteran issues. They have given out free coffee to all students during finals week. They also partnered with Grunt Style, a veteran owned company, to sell T-shirts with the proceeds going to support active duty personnel. The shirts said MSOE and were red with the intention that R.E.D. stands for “Remember Everyone Deployed.” The red shirts, along with other red clothing, can be worn on Fridays as a reminder that Americans are still deployed.

MSOE’s Student Veteran Organization goes beyond remembering those who have fallen and helps those currently serving our country. Members shared that they have found a support system through their fellow members and that it has helped them adjust to life at MSOE. Hughes said, “Having life experiences far different from my fellow students, I felt isolated and alone when I enrolled. Then this organization was started and I found that I have brothers and sisters all around me. I have all the support I need to tackle MSOE now.” Members also shared that fellow veterans have been able to assist outside of MSOE with the job market.