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I am a veteran that has served in the military for nearly 32 years now. I have deployed multiple times to the Middle East with the Army and Air Force. I am currently a commander with the Air National Guard. I can no longer count the number of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries that I have missed due to being away from home while conducting military operations or training. Some of those days were spent thousands of miles away from home in the dirt or sand deployed to a combat zone. I do this willing and knowingly because I believe whole heartedly in what this nation stands for.

That being said, Veterans Day is an important holiday to me. It is a day for everyone to take time to pay tribute to the men and women that have sacrificed their time, sweat, tears, and blood to uphold the rights, interests, and beliefs that this country was founded on. It is a time to honor those warriors and families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives.

There are many reasons we take up the mantle of a soldier, airman, seaman, or Marine. Some to support their families, some for the training, or even for college. With 100% conviction I can say that no matter the reason, all have the belief, love, and pride in their unit, branch of service, and country.

I recently started the graduate program at Marshall University. I was confused when I checked the calendar to make sure I did not have class Wednesday and could not find anything about having Veterans Day off. Surely this was a mistake. So I decided to place a call to the president of Marshall University to find out why they were not going to honor the veterans and give the students that day off from class, many who are still serving members in the West Virginia National Guard. I could not reach Dr. Jerry Gilbert and asked if he could give me a call back on the issue. I received a call later that day, not from Dr. Gilbert, but from someone he had tasked to answer my inquiry. I was a little offended that he could not take five minutes to field my question. I understand that he is a busy person, but so am I.

They nicely explained that they bundle several state and federal holidays, Veterans Day being one, into the time between Christmas and New Year’s for their employees to have off. That is fine for the employees, but what about the hundreds of Marshall students that are still in the military or are veterans? I have several students that are under my command that attend Marshall, as well as myself. I know in the scheme of things that most people will not think twice about this, but as a 31-year veteran I consider this a slap in the face. It greatly changes my viewpoint on Marshall University. I am a person that bleeds green; I even named my son Marshall.

I do want to note that it is not just Marshall, but also West Virginia University, West Virginia State University, and the University of Charleston that also do not honor Veterans Day. I am sure it is the same with the other colleges and universities within the state. It is a great shame that the places of higher learning have such little regard for our military and veterans, especially since Veterans Day has been long established as a federal and state holiday.

These are solely my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the Army, Air Force, or Department of Defense in any way.

Robert “Shane” Mills is a Cabell County resident.

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