Patriot Palooza to connect veterans in community
As Veterans Day approaches, the University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College plan to host a gathering for area veterans to meet and network with students, faculty, staff and alumni who have served in the military.
Patriot Palooza will be from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the lobby of UHV University South, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The free event will be a come-and-go gathering that will include representatives from many of the veteran organizations in Victoria, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The U.S. Veterans Affairs, the American Legion and more. Spouses and supporters are also welcome to attend.
“Veterans and those currently serving in the military are important to our community and our society, but sometimes the newer generations are disconnected and don’t know where to go to find support,” said Daniel White, UHV interim associate provost for curriculum and student success and a Marine Corps veteran. “There’s a certain camaraderie that comes along with the shared experience of being in the military, and we want to give our veterans and servicepeople a place to come and meet others who share those experiences.”
The idea for Patriot Palooza came to White when he was talking with a student who is also a veteran. During their conversation, White realized that while the university offers resources for students who were members of the military, such as scholarships, counseling services and recognition at graduation, the university doesn’t have an event that focuses on veterans.
“As we were talking about it, I said, ‘We should throw a party,’” White said. “When I said the same thing to Jennifer Ortiz-Garza, a fellow faculty member, she said we should do it, so here we are. We’re hoping to make this an annual event and maybe expand it into a weekend of activities.”
Patriot Palooza will be a social gathering, and appetizers and beverages will be available. In addition to veteran organizations, representatives from state and federal offices have been invited, including U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, State Rep. Geanie Morrison and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.
The event is funded through sponsorships, including donations from Atzenhoffer Auto Group, Warrior’s Weekend, the Disabled America Veterans and Big Gator Roofing, said Kelsey Norgard, UHV director of alumni relations and annual giving.
“We want to get our student veterans and servicemembers networked with the community,” Norgard said. “There are so many benefits to having those connections. A strong network can help veterans find resources, jobs, or even someone to talk to. We also want to celebrate them and honor them for the sacrifices they have made.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 50 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.