CU’s Student Veterans as Key Figures in Sustaining the Mission of Higher Education

On February 26, the Center will launch a series in which Limerick will interview CU student veterans. Topics will range from the experiences and convictions that led them to volunteer for military service, to the ways that their thinking about the nation changed and deepened over their time of service. With a Western American historian serving as host, there will be an occasional comparison to the history of the military in the American West, but the focus will be on the stories and reflections of young people who are unmistakably wise beyond their years—and also students with intense curiosity and compelling ambitions for the future.

From its origins to the present moment, the United States has been a nation at war for many more years than it has been a nation at peace. Wars that have ended with a clear victory, a negotiated treaty, and a lasting peace may well have been more the exception than the rule. Over the last half century, the term “forever war” has gained wide relevance, as troops are dispatched into military interventions guided by little in the way of defined and achievable goals. Wars of this sort have created and maintained a disturbing disengagement between civilians and the men and women who serve in the United States Military. In other contexts, “out of sight, out of mind” is only a light figure of speech. But in the nation’s relationship to its active-duty soldiers and to its veterans, “out of sight, out of mind” is a situation that calls for remedy.

For the Center of the American West, encountering a disconnect—between two sectors of society that should join together in conversation and connection—presents itself as a welcomed call to action. In her first three decades as a CU Professor, Patty Limerick knew next to nothing about the existence of the Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA) on campus. Five years ago, that situation changed permanently, and Limerick is honored to have been designated as the VMA’s Campus Partner for Academic Affairs.