The veteran section of Oakwood Cemetery was cleared of overgrown grass and debris on Oct. 3 by Syracuse University’s Veterans Affinity Group. The 19 socially distanced volunteers cleared the section’s 70 grave markers.
Kari Mickinkle is the Veterans Affinity Group’s chair of community service initiatives. She says this is the third year the Veterans Affinity Group has tended the veteran section of Oakwood Cemetery, which is located next to campus. “I think it is great that so many people are willing to give up some of their time on a Saturday,” says Mickinkle. Mickinkle works with student veterans extensively on campus in her other role as a school certifying official in the Office of Veteran Success. “I think it speaks volumes about the culture on campus that so many will volunteer their time to ensure the final resting places for these veterans are well taken care of.”
The Veterans Affinity Group cleans the section in the fall and spring semesters. The cleanup is just one example of the community service projects the group regularly organizes, says Mickinkle. This December, the group will work with the Onondaga County Veterans Service Agency to place wreaths on the section’s plots as part of the Wreaths Across America program.
Mickinkle says projects like the cemetery cleanup allow the campus community to support veterans in a tangible way. The Veterans Affinity Group is open to all members of the campus community with military service experience or a passion for supporting those who have served. For Mickinkle, Syracuse University being the best place for veterans™ is not just a tagline. “It is a motto that we live by,” she says. Those interested in joining the Veterans Affinity group may email SUVA@syr.edu for more information.