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By Susan Hoffman
Special Contributor, In Military
Note: All images courtesy of WUSA9. The appearance of Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
Two days before Thanksgiving, American servicemembers returning to the U.S. from duty stations abroad got an unexpected holiday surprise. In the International Arrivals area of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the troops broke out in weary grins at the sight of patriotic thank-you signs and cheering, clapping volunteers. The volunteers gave out goodie bags to sustain servicemembers during the rest of their trip home.
AMU had the opportunity to participate in this welcome home event through the nonprofit Operation Welcome Home Maryland and WUSA9’s Impact Team. WUSA9 is a DC-based CBS affiliate and one of AMU’s corporate partners.
The Student and Alumni Affairs team worked alongside leaders of the AMU and APU chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) to prepare for the Thanksgiving week arrival. Organizing AMU’s participation required a tight turnaround, but given the opportunity and the alignment with the university community’s desire to support our military servicemembers, it was a natural fit. Local students, alumni, faculty and staff members were invited to participate in the event.
The Office of Student and Alumni Affairs contacted several student organizations who signed up to offer their assistance:
- Student Veterans of America
- Society of Walmart Associates
- The National Society of Collegiate Scholars
- The Society of Collegiate Leadership and Achievement
Student Organizations Give Large Donation to Operation Welcome Home Maryland
Over 30 university staff, faculty and students signed up to welcome the troops home. In addition, four student organizations generously donated $1,500 to assist Operation Welcome Home Maryland with the work they do.
Amanda Wilson, Associate Vice President of Student and Alumni Affairs, commented, “It’s incredibly rewarding participating in an event like this one. There were several organizations represented at the event — standing alongside AMU in support of this amazing cause. I noticed a Girl Scout troop handing out cookies, veterans from different wars and family members of those coming through the doors.
“We saw a lot of families waiting in the front — with smiles, tears and handmade “Welcome Home” signs. There was one family with two very excited little kids who couldn’t wait to see their dad come through those doors. He was one of the last ones through. When he finally did, cheers literally erupted in the terminal watching them reunite. It reminded everyone there of the sacrifice military families go through.
“Some servicemembers didn’t get it at first, that all those people were here for them,” Amanda added. “But when they realized, they were very appreciative and thankful. I hope this gesture and event made these very special men and women feel valued and appreciated — and they can go home, take a load off, and reunite with family and friends.”
Operation Welcome Home Maryland Was One of Over 1,500 Service Projects
The university has over 70 student organizations that are very active in various projects. In fact, participation in Operation Welcome Home Maryland was one of over 1,500 student organization service projects in 2018. If you are interested in joining a student organization, visit the Student Clubs and Organizations page.
Roots In The Military. Relevant To All.
American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.