Memorial Day in Miami is often the unofficial start of summer, marked by Urban Beach Week and backyard BBQs. At FIU, 1,800 military-associated students remind us of the true meaning of the holiday – honoring fallen soldiers.
“It’s a time to remember our fallen brothers and sisters, especially with a war not too long ago,” said Mike Pischner ’00 ’14, director of FIU’s Veteran and Military Affairs office. “It’s lost its emphasis a little bit,” he said of the holiday.
In the past few years, the the military population on campus has grown tremendously. Pischner, who first came to FIU in 1996 on the GI Bill after serving in the Army, is proud of the growth.
“In 2009, we had just 450 veterans on campus,” he recalls. “But with the war and the new GI Bill, we have active duty, guard, reserve, spouses and dependents who use the GI Bill. Our population has climbed and our main emphasis has changed from being just compliance – sending the student enrollment information, making sure their classes are for their major, sending info to the VA, making sure the student and FIU get paid – to offering a facility that’s a meeting place, a place to vent, a place to escape. We have TV sets, computers – whatever they need to do, we can to take care of it right here.”
To help meet those needs, the Veteran and Military Affairs Office is now part of the Division of Student Affairs, which houses more than 20 departments offering support services for students.
As the number of military members continues to grow, we take a moment to remember those who have sacrificed for our country, and honor those at home and abroad who bravely fight to defend our freedoms. From all of us at FIU, we thank you!