For the service they have done for the nation, Weber State University and the community at large, five individuals were honored at the first Veterans Appreciation Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Wednesday afternoon. The awards ceremony was designed to honor military members, student veterans and support organizations. The Military Outreach and Veterans Education program

(Photo by Cade Clark) Benjamin Johnson, left, and Nathan Cragun, right, showcased their World War II artifacts as part of an exhibit for the Veterans Appreciation Awards Ceremony. Johnson and Cragun have been collecting since they were 16 years old.

helped to initiate these awards.

Tyler J. Baranowsky, a Marine Upward Bound student, and Jacob A. Pipkin, a sergeant in the US Air Force, both received the 2012 Outstanding Student award as part of the ceremony. Bruce Davis, vice provost and dean of WSU Continuing Education, spoke at the ceremony and was also honored with an award. The Department of Workforce Services Wasatch North Region was given an award for its support of veterans and military personnel. Jennifer Comer, Student Veteran Association president and student senate member, gave concluding remarks after receiving the Non-University Employee award.

According to Charlie Chandler, the coordinator of WSU Veterans Services, the MOVE program is designed to try to work on issues that veterans attending WSU may have. Wednesday’s awards ceremony evolved out of the MOVE committee.

“It’s designed to try to address roadblocks or difficulties veterans might be having and how to improve WSU’s ability to serve veterans,” Chandler said. He said the MOVE program has been running for more than four years now.

Chandler said four people volunteered for the nomination committee, but they just narrowed down the selection process and reviewed the criteria of what the Veterans Affairs Office was looking for in the award categories. He went on to say the individuals chosen have had to provide some “specific, noteworthy service for veterans,” and the focus must be kept on WSU in general.

“So we’re looking for kind of this interaction between what these veterans have done,” Chandler said, “if they’re students, if they have been leaders on the campus.”

Sergeant Jin Nakamura, a junior and psychology major who works in the Veterans Center on campus, has been serving in the military for three years. According to Nakamura, there are a lot of resources for veterans on campus that  veterans and military students should utilize. He said he can help with anything veterans need, whether it be a family issue or a mental health issue.

“There’s a lot of veterans that come back from overseas, and they see the transitions that are different from the civilian world, especially university students,” Nakamura said. “So it’s good for the students to be around other veterans who understand where they come from. So I recommend the veterans to come see us.”

Prior to the luncheon, a World War II exhibit was on display in the atrium of the Shepherd Union Building. A flag ceremony was also held at noon at the Quad, directly west of the A1 parking lot.

Nathan Cragun, a public relations and advertising major, displayed many artifacts from his collection for the exhibit. Cragun is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force and has been on active duty since October of 2008. He said he started to collect old war memorabilia and relics with his friend at the age of 16 because of his interest in war films.

“Our interests actually started because of film,” Cragun said, “. . . so we just started getting stuff to make movies, then we actually got drug into the hobby of actually getting the original stuff. And we still do movies to this day.”

Cragun said one of his favorite uniforms belonged to an airman who was attached to a unit at Wheeler Airbase during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His grandfather’s Korean War uniform is also something Cragun said he places sentimental value on, and he is currently restoring it. He has gotten pieces for his collection from places such as antique stores, eBay and veterans who were willing to donate old uniforms.

“We take that kind of stuff with open arms, as long as that person is willing to do that,” Cragun said. “But if they feel like they can’t have it anymore, we will take it more than willingly to preserve history.”

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