I sit on the Board of Directors of my medical school’s alumni association. Like all organizations these days, we are seeking ways to stimulate membership growth.
Being a graduate of the U S Navy’s “Ensign 1915 Program” (in which I was commissioned an Ensign in the Medical Corps and received Ensign’s pay under “duty for instruction” orders), and having served three years’ active military duty and 21 years in Reserve duty, and knowing that several of my classmates had similarly served, it occurred to me that it might be advantageous to stand up a veterans group as a subsidiary of our alumni association. So, I did my research: the only graduate programs that I found with military alumni groups were a few business schools.
Now, I’m a Vietnam-era vet, and we didn’t find a lot of “love” when we returned from service. Moreover, the after-glow of Vietnam-era anti-war sentiment, and, more recently, resentment of the military’s “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy, has not made higher academic institutions seem particularly fond of those with a military past. Fortunately, this seems to be changing. Yale’s medical school highlighted graduates currently serving and those with past service in the Spring 2011 number of Yale Medicine. At my own medical school, the new Chief of Obstetrics-Gynecology, a former Army Surgeon General, swore in five new medical officers in the 2011 graduating class–to a standing ovation from their classmates and the general audience.
With attitudes toward military service softening, I hope my veteran brethren and sisters will not be shy in joining the military interest group, once it’s approved by the association board. Once stood up, I can imagine the group raising money for scholarships for students anticipating military service, offering advice and counsel to the young doctors-to-be, and, I hope, just getting together to swap old sea stories (or whatever stories Army and Air Force types like to swap).
Do you have any experience with a military veterans alumni group? Please tell us about it in the Comment area.
© 2011 Thomas L Snyder