Service to country and community has long been a tradition at Harvard.
And, President Larry Bacow told a gathering of veterans on campus last weekend, “there is no higher public service than to serve one’s country in uniform, and each and every one of you exemplifies that.”
Bacow spoke to the newly formed Harvard Undergraduate Veterans Association at a reception and barbeque at Loeb Hall, organized by the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization (HVAO). The groups are working to bring together veterans enrolled in different parts of the University and integrate them with the wider community.
“Everyone comes from different branches of the military, so their services were different. But they all wanted to serve in some way, so they all share that drive,” said Steve Petraeus, co-director of the HUVA, an Army veteran and third-year J.D.-M.B.A. student.
Bacow noted the University has had a longstanding relationship with the military, reaching back to the Revolutionary War when George Washington quartered his troops at Massachusetts Hall. That tie has undergone an evolution in recent decades, however. Referring to turmoil on campus over recruiting in the 1970s, Bacow said, “Fortunately we live in different times today.” At present, he said, “We are doing quite well. But there is still more to do, and we are going to do it.”
Harvard has increased efforts in recent years to recruit veterans, working with the Defense Department and conducting outreach via community college centers for former members of the military. The number of veterans enrolled as Harvard undergraduates is up this semester, with a total of 10 first-years and transfers entering this fall, compared with just six last year. In addition, Harvard now has 63 ROTC students including 25 first-years, doubling last year’s number.