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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Military support organization to put on weekend barbecue

After Veterans Day Tuesday, military appreciation at Texas A&M continues through the weekend, rounding off with a barbecue to bring veterans and members of the community together Sunday.
Aggies Support United Service Organizations is the first and only collegiate chapter of USO, a national nonprofit organization that promotes military appreciation.
Erica Lloyd, political science junior, said any member of the military, former or current, and their families can attend for free.
“Also we’re going to have our civilians come and be able to hang out and thank them in a more meaningful way than just shaking their hand saying ‘thank you,’” Lloyd said. “Getting people to sit down and eat together get to know each other on a personal level I feel is a better way to say ‘thank you’ to someone.”
Lloyd said the event fits the organization’s motto for the semester, which is “bridge the gap.”
ASUSO was started in 2011 by Ashley Ricketson, Class of 2014. Ricketson said she wanted to start an organization with a focus in military appreciation.
“I went to the MSC Open House my freshman year, and I was surprised that there weren’t that many military affiliated organizations in terms of military support,” Ricketson said. “I was looking to join an organization like that when I came here, and that just surprised me.”
Ricketson said she had grown up in a patriotic family. Both her uncle and boyfriend have served in the armed forces.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for military,” Ricketson said. “My grandmother was a real big military supporter. She would always send letters and cookies and she’d make yellow roses for the troops.”
Events like Sunday’s barbecue are beneficial not only to students, but also to veterans young and old, said Col. Jerry Smith, director of the A&M Veteran Resource and Support Center.
“Those organizations out in the community tended to be older veterans, and they very much wanted to be participating with younger veterans and students,” Smith said. “Very few of the younger veterans, especially the ones who were in school, had the time to go to a lot of the traditional meetings. We have to find other ways for them to connect. Some of these events on the weekend are a way to do that.”
Since 2013, Smith has met with the leaders of military-affiliated, student-run organizations on campus. He has been able to connect the organizations to veteran groups in the community, including the American Legion Earl Graham Post 159 in Bryan, which is allowing ASUSO to use its hall Sunday.
“The American Legion said this past year, ‘You know what? We’re going to open up our legion hall in Bryan to any student organization that wants to work with or for support of veterans, and they can use our legion hall free of charge,’” Smith said. “That was a big step for them.”
Ricketson said ASUSO started with about five members in 2011. Lloyd said that number has climbed to around 20, and she said she expects it to continue to grow.
“Our recognizability on campus has grown,” Lloyd said. “I’ll be talking to people and mention that I’m a part of Aggies Support USO, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of that,’ whereas when I was a freshman, nobody knew anything. Just being able to see a change in the students’ knowledge about the USO as a whole organization is really exciting for us.”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10 years old. The barbecue will be from 2-7 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Earl Graham Post 159 in Bryan.

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