U.S. military recognizes UWP for support

August 28, 2003

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UWP professor Kurt Rolle (center) accepted a plaque from Major Donald Hamilton (right) of the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, on behalf of the University for its patriotic support of the volunteer military. Mechanical Engineering graduate Trevor Smith (left) juggled classes and military service when he was a student at UWP, and nominated the University for the award.

PLATTEVILLE - For thousands of national guardsmen and women who get called up to active duty in the United States military every year, making the transition from the life of a civilian to the life of a soldier can be a difficult one.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville tries to help students and staff heeding the call to defend the country and has been recognized by the military for its patriotic support. UWP mechanical and industrial engineering department chair Kurt Rolle accepted the citation for patriotic service on behalf of the University May 22.

Rolle said professors do what they can to help out students who are forced to withdraw from classes for military service.

"We do what we can to facilitate their responsibilities," Rolle said.

Students who withdraw toward the end of a semester may be able take the final exam early and pass the class while others may be able to complete make-up work when they return.

That is exactly what happened for 76 students in January when they were called to active duty in connection with military operations in Iraq. Many serve in the 229th engineering company, and Registrar Ed Deneen said his office set up booths at the company's armories in Platteville and Prairie du Chien to assist students in withdrawing from the University. He plans to similarly go the extra step to help them re-enter school when they return.

"We'll accommodate them in any form," Deneen said. "We will assist them with any paperwork and make it as easy as possible."

Deneen said his office has already assisted four returning servicemen to re-enter the school following the recent military operations.

UWP mechanical engineering graduate Trevor Smith currently serves in the Air National Guard and nominated UW-Platteville for the honor, Rolle said. The Wisconsin Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented the award in conjunction with the Wisconsin Air National Guard and U.S. Department of Defense.

The primary goal of the Wisconsin ESGR committee is to mediate problems that might arise between employers and reservists when guardsmen get called to active duty.

"A lot of service people have gotten called up, and that means they're getting taken away from their employers," Stephen Kraus, public affairs coordinator for the Wisconsin ESGR, said. "We volunteer our time to make sure they have a smooth transition between their work and their time in military."

The committee also tries to raise awareness of how many volunteers comprise the current U.S. military, more than 50 percent, in stark contrast to the Vietnam-ear draft military.

"When we have a conflict like in Bosnia or the Persian Gulf, a lot of people get called up. They are fighting our wars for us and keeping the peace for us, but they are also moms and dads, and they are full-time employees someplace," Kraus added.

A plaque in recognition of UWP's patriotic support of the guard and reserve hangs in Ottensman Hall.

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The Wisconsin National Guard's 229th engineering company that was called to active duty for service in the Middle East earlier this year is comprised of many UWP students. The company is currently stationed in Iraq. A total of 76 UWP students withdrew from school earlier this year for military obligations. The University received a citation from the U.S. military for their patriotic support of the guard and reserves.

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