Commemorate Veterans Day at Duke on Nov. 10

Employee veterans share how military service helps their work

Duke will commemorate Veterans Day on Nov. 10.
The Veterans Day commemoration at Duke in 2016.

Jennifer Cheeseman said she gets the “warm fuzzies” knowing she is surrounded at Duke by a large community of veterans.   

Cheeseman, a senior director of Biobanking and Translation Research, served in the Air Force as an aerospace ground support equipment mechanic from 1995 to 1999. She’s among the military veterans Duke will honor at 11 a.m. Nov. 10 during a commemoration outside Duke University Chapel.

About 800 Duke employees identify as veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including some who remain as reservists today.

“It gives you a sense of pride in what you accomplished knowing Duke recognizes your service,” Cheeseman said. “Duke supports veterans. Duke hires veterans.”

The ceremony will begin with the Color Guard and introductions. Phail Wynn, Jr., vice president of Durham & Regional Affairs, will deliver keynote remarks. Immediately after the 30-minute program, the Duke Alumni Association will lead a wreath-laying ceremony at Memorial Wall, between the Chapel and Divinity School. The ceremony is open to the public. Also, on Nov. 9, Duke Raleigh Hospital will host its 11th Annual "Celebration of Our Veterans" at 2 p.m. in the Duke Raleigh Hospital Cafe.

As the community commemorates Veterans Day, Working@Duke asked employee-veterans how their military service has shaped their work.

Tech Sgt. Kris Hamilton
Air Force, 1997-2006
Technical Leader, Duke Health Technology Solutions (DHTS)

Kris Hamilton
Hamilton traveled to Germany, Kosovo and Bosnia as part of an engineering communications team that supported Black Hawk medical missions. With the medical teams, Hamilton generally arrived first to a scene where he then reported on conditions to the military base. The experience he gained through managing hectic situations has helped him balance working full-time at Duke Health Technology Solutions with helping to train athletes, students and employees at Duke Recreation & Physical Education.

“My time in the service prepared me for a high-operations tempo. Staying on top of timelines was imperative to keep people safe while supporting our missions,” he said. “This attention to detail to use time wisely has definitely allowed me to maintain support within my role at DHTS and provide the proper one-on-one time with my athletes to ensure they are growing.”

Sgt. Ariel Evans
Army, 2012-2016, National Guard 2016-Present
Staff Assistant, Fuqua School of Business

Ariel Evans
Unsure of what to do after high school, Evans followed in the footsteps of her two grandmothers and joined the Army as human resources sergeant. Her service was split between Fort Riley in Kansas and Kuwait City. After having a son in 2016, she decided to switch to the National Guard to have more time with her family. 

Working in the Army abroad prepared Evans for the diverse students, employees and visitors in her role as staff assistant with the Fuqua School of Business.  

“You learn how to deal with different people from different backgrounds,” she said. “You understand how to relate to them, especially when there’s a language or cultural barriers.”

Capt. Jim Luther
Marine Corp, 1985-1990
Associate Vice President of Finance, Compliance Officer

Jim Luther
Luther spent half his service at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina and the other in Oslo and Trosmø, Norway during the Cold War. Having made a home of North Carolina, Luther began working at Duke in 1990, and he is now associate vice president of Finance.

“I think part of the reason I was hired was some of the discipline that I brought to the process. The way I analyzed problems, coordinated to solve problems and work with people,” Luther said. “How the university and military is similar is identifying who the stakeholders are, who the different groups are and getting everybody together to accomplish whatever the mission is.”

Capt. Marc Stern
Navy, 1984-Present
Commanding Officer Duke Naval ROTC

Marc Stern
Stern joined the Navy after needing help paying college tuition. He never expected it would turn into a career. He’s worked on submarines, called The Pentagon his office and now heads the Navy ROTC program at Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State.

“First and foremost, ROTC students are expected to get college degrees to understand how to think critically, ask questions and study,” Stern said. “Those skills are valued and critical to Navy officers and to larger parts of society.”