Starting with December commencement, UNL will offer a new salute to graduating military veterans and students receiving ROTC commissions.
All graduates with military service — including those honorably discharged, currently serving or entering via ROTC commitments — are eligible to wear a red, white and blue honor cord as part of commencement regalia. The cords are free, with funding provided by the University of Nebraska Alumni Association’s ROTC and military affiliate.
“The military cord is a great way for the university to acknowledge those who have served, are serving or are about to serve,” said Rich Thomas, commanding officer of the UNL Naval ROTC unit. “Every graduate who wears the cord will do so with pride, knowing that the university respects and honors their service and sacrifice.”
More than 20 graduates are expected to don the cords during commencement exercises on Dec. 20. UNL is the among eight Big Ten Conference universities that will use the cords to salute graduating veterans and ROTC students.
The NU Alumni Center’s ROTC and military affiliate will continue to provide funding for the cords at future commencement exercises.
“Our ROTC affiliate jumped at the opportunity to salute graduating veterans and those who will serve in the military,” said Shelley Zaborowski, interim director of the NU Alumni Association. “All of us in the alumni association are excited to be a part of this new tradition.”
The cord salute has been developed over the last year, said Michelle Waite, assistant to the chancellor for community relations and a member of the Student Veteran and Military Task Force.
“It really started from several different sources, including colleagues in the Big Ten Conference, the ROTC alumni affiliate and our campus task force,” Waite said. “The cords are a small symbol that shows we are proud of military service members. They are also an extension of the university-wide collaboration to serve our veterans.”
For the fifth year in a row, UNL has been named a Military Friendly School. The designation is awarded to the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.
For more information on veterans resources offered at UNL, click here.
Details about the cords were included in the UNL commencement information packets delivered to students who applied for December graduation. Cord reservations are not necessary. Instead, graduates with military service or those entering the military through the ROTC program must provide documentation to pick up a cord during cap and gown disbursement in the NU Alumni Center.
Appropriate documentation includes a military ID or a DD Form 214 and photo identification.
“Veterans provide our campus with another diverse student population whose life experiences can contribute to a class discussion or to the general environment of our campus community,” Waite said. “The ability to wear an honor cord seems like a minor, tangible symbol that indicates that these students have accomplished their education goals after their sacrifice of service to our country.”