Duke will host a Veterans Day commemoration at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 inside Duke University Chapel, where members of the newly formed Duke Military Association will also gather to honor members of the military.
One day last year, Jodi Belanger received an email about the new affinity group for military veterans working at Duke.
Belanger, a U.S. Army veteran, had been at Duke for one year and didn’t know anything about Duke’s military community. She was excited to connect with other employee veterans at a welcome lunch.
“I felt this rush of energy and excitement when I saw all of the veterans,” said Belanger, administrative assistant in the Department of Cell Biology. “Veterans share a common bond where you have this immediate connection whenever you meet each other.”
The Duke Military Association, formed in 2018 with the leadership of Duke University Health System Human Resources and Dan Bruno, chief operating officer of Duke Health Technology Solutions, is open to all Duke staff, faculty and students, regardless of veteran status. The group provides an opportunity for Duke community members to network and build community through activities. About 900 Duke employees identify as veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
“We want to show that Duke is a military-friendly employer,” said Bruno, who served in the U.S. Army for 30 years.
Members of the Duke Military Association meet quarterly for meetings and social events such as Duke Football games and the Triangle Purple Heart Dinner, as well as the Veterans Day commemoration at Duke. They will also be in attendance at the 11 a.m. Nov. 11 commemoration in Duke University Chapel. Dean Taylor, sports medicine Orthopaedic surgeon, will serve as guest speaker.
Bruno and Val Eatmon, Navy veteran and IT senior manager for Duke Health Technology Solutions, hope to extend the group’s reach by supporting active duty service members and veterans in the Triangle area who want help navigating Duke’s employment and recruiting system.
“Military people bring a lot of skills to the workforce,” Bruno said. “We’re adaptable, disciplined, prompt and accountable.”
Randy Garcia, senior assistant director for the Duke Annual Fund, looks forward to being part of a tight-knit group of employee veterans. Garcia, who served in the U.S. Army for 19 years, graduated from Duke in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology while working as a commander at Fort Bragg.
“Serving never stops,” he said. “We want to show the military community within and outside of Duke that you are not alone. We are here to support you.”