Alumnus wants ‘chances’ for vets

By Rachel Scaman

People owe only one thing to a veteran, and it’s not a free dinner at Applebee’s, said NIU alumnus Rich Bennet. It’s a chance.

Bennet, who spoke during NIU’s annual Veterans Day flagpole ceremony Wednesday outside Altgeld Hall, asked every person who attended to raise their hand if they were a veteran, married to a veteran or knew a veteran. Every person raised their hand.

Bennet said no one owes veterans a hand shake, or a thank you, as he said everyone knows those things are going to happen anyway.

“As a veteran, you create your commander’s intent and your mission,” Bennet said. “As a civilian, you give that veteran a chance, whether it’s a job interview, a handsome guy asking you on a date. If he’s a veteran, you give him a chance. That’s it. They blow their chance, it’s on them.”

NIU President Doug Baker, who attended the ceremony, said Illinois really tries to honor its veterans in many ways, referencing the benefits of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014.

“The state legislature has passed a bill that allows veterans to go to college for free,” Baker said. “We have a strong veteran support group here on campus to help [veterans] be successful.”

There are more than 700 veterans on campus, Baker said.

“We’re really proud of them and their contributions to the university and we need to do all we can to serve them,” Baker said.