American pride in the Bobcat Nation

By on February 14, 2012

To honor those who have made sacrifices to keep America safe, fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and the Student Veteran Organization are making efforts to give back.

The brothers of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at Quinnipiac are sending care packages to active-duty Marines in Afghanistan stocked with energy drinks, gum, toiletries and an assortment of other comfort items, said Ben Jerome-Lee, special events co-chair for Sigma Phi Epsilon. The program began last year, modeled after SigEp’s Yale chapter Marine Care Packages.

Twenty-eight percent of the deaths claimed by the War on Terror were the lives of young American ages 18-21, according to Rod Powers, an author of three books on U.S. Military Veterans.

“It gets brothers aware that there are guys overseas giving up their 18 to 24-year-old lives,” Jerome-Lee said. “They could be doing what we’re doing and instead they give it up to serve their country.”

Last semester, SigEp began to send care packages to a Marine unit overseas. The corporal in charge of that Marine unit, Adrian Bonenberger, was related to the fraternity’s former Vice President of Programming Tucker Robinson.

In a email correspondence between SigEp’s former president Alex Forman and Captain Christopher Mercado of the Marine unit, Mercado expressed his deepest gratitude for the gesture.

“We sincerely appreciate what you’ve done for us,” Mercado said. “Adrian and his company did an absolutely fantastic job up here in Afghanistan and they have cast a very big shadow for us. We’re all doing great and we definitely appreciate the support of Sigma Phi Epsilon and yourself. It’s things like this which keep us going.”

This semester the packages are going out to a new group of soldiers, Jerome-Lee said.

“It keeps [the soldiers] in the forefront of our minds and it perpetuates the idea that they are sacrificing something for us,” Jerome-Lee said.

Another group on campus that supports the nation is filled with the people who have fought to defend it.

Quinnipiac’s Student Veteran Organization helps young veterans transition into student life, as well as raise awareness of the veteran community. Veteran Ian McAfee started the group on campus last March.

“We’re not your average students,” McAfee said. “We have members that are married with kids, families.”

There are currently 20 members in the organization, consisting of veterans and supporters. McAfee opens the doors to everyone that wants to support those that are active in the armed forces.

The SVO said it plans to expand its presence on campus, but because of the group’s new status, it has not had time to participate in any events, McAfee said.

The organization has plans to host a movie night to raise awareness of homeless veterans, McAfee said. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, approximately one-third of the homeless adult population in the United States is made up of veterans.

The SVO said it hopes to send care packages to deployed soldiers and to hold a Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) fundraiser where participants will do pull-ups, sit-ups and run a race. McAfee hopes to donate the proceeds from the PFT to local veteran charities.

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