Vets exemplify UW Bothell values

For a time during the Iraq War in 2008 Capt. Aaron Thacker was housed in the ruins of what had been one of Saddam Hussein’s regional palaces. Bullets had pocked the walls, and a huge hole was blown in one wall.

Still, Thacker, left, noticed it had the framework of a beautiful structure. There were mosaics of daily life on the exterior and designs of eight-petal flowers on a 30-foot ceiling, which told a story of the eight-year Iraq-Iran War.

“When I reflect upon what my education at UW Bothell has to do with my military career, it’s this: In my experience, what I’ve found is that all humans value beauty. All humans value some kind of art. But if you’ve never studied the literature, the philosophy or the art of a culture then you may not recognize it when you see it,” said Thacker, a 1998 liberal studies graduate with a degree in culture, literature, arts.

Thacker, in Army dress uniform, service ribbons on his chest, was the keynote speaker Wednesday, Nov. 9, at a UW Bothell reception honoring veterans.

A more recent alum, Benjamin Studley (community psychology ’16), spoke about his 16-year career in the Navy. He was chief gunner’s mate on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and was aboard in 2003 when President George W. Bush landed and gave his “Mission Accomplished” speech.

Studley, right, had a difficult transition to civilian life and found a calling at UW Bothell as the Vet Corps navigator, helping other veterans. It’s a role he continues with a Wounded Warrior fellowship in the office of Rep. Suzan DelBene as the veterans case worker and field representative in the district, which includes Bothell.

“Transition is huge with veterans. It takes some guidance. What’s really important is to have a place to go to find out where you belong. UW Bothell was that place for me,” Studley said.

The gathering also heard from Student Veterans Association President and Army veteran Omar Gonzalez who is working to increase the visibility of the nearly 200 veterans on campus.

honor guard with flags
Benjamin Studley

Chancellor and Navy veteran Wolf Yeigh, right, thanked all the veterans, family members and representatives of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars in attendance. Yeigh says veterans bring the campus leadership, integrity, reliability and teamwork. He encouraged them to take advantage of benefits they have earned through UW Bothell’s Veterans Services Office and the Career Center.

The reception was hosted by the UW Bothell Alumni Office in partnership with the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans Services Office.

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