Serving Those Who Served

A university where generations of veterans have earned college educations, Rutgers–Camden today hosts an award-winning student veterans program.

Alumnus Andrew Jackson, a Korean War veteran, and student-veteran Bobby Hughes CCAS’21, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Photo by Jonathan Kolbe.

By Sam Starnes

It was much more than a handshake when Andrew Jackson, an 89-year-old Korean War veteran resplendent in his green Army dress uniform with a chest full of medals, extended his hand to Bobby Hughes, a 24-year-old Army veteran who recently served as an infantryman in Afghanistan.

The two veterans of wars more than six decades apart clasped their right hands. “How are you doing, son?” asked Jackson, a 1958 Rutgers University– Camden alumnus. “I’m good, sir,” said Hughes, a junior on a premed track at Rutgers–Camden. He smiled. “Thank you.” Hughes wore jeans and a button-down shirt, but carried a camouflage ammunition vest, a symbol of his service, for a photo shoot for this magazine.

Jackson, a former captain who often speaks to student-veterans on campus, leaned in closer and put his left arm on Hughes’ shoulder and gripped his right hand tighter. “No, son, how are you really doing?” Jackson’s gesture and the warmth of his voice conveyed the message: I know what war is like and I care about you.

Hughes nodded, his strong, soldierly face revealing a flash of emotion at the older soldier’s concern. He nodded. “Thank you, sir, I’m doing good,” Hughes said. The look in his and Jackson’s eyes said much more about the special connection that they share as veterans.

Read profiles of these Rutgers–Camden student veterans and others by following links below. Photo by Jonathan Kolbe.

This deep bond established in a brief meeting is just one moment of many representative of the care for veterans at Rutgers–Camden. Over the past decade, the university has expanded and enhanced its services to veterans on campus through the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, led by founding director Fred Davis, and grown the number of veterans enrolled. Rutgers–Camden has been a leader in higher education for veterans services, winning numerous accolades for its program, including being the first college in New Jersey to be named a Purple Heart University. Rutgers–Camden also has been a leader on veterans issues statewide. Within Rutgers, it was the first campus to re-establish services for veterans, and it continues to enroll the highest percentage of student-veterans. Efforts at Rutgers–Camden also influenced the creation of two new state laws that ensure veterans at colleges in New Jersey are rewarded for their service.

Please click on the following links below to read a collection of articles that tell a variety of stories about the university and veterans, including profiles of student-veterans and veteran alumni. Articles also look back at how the current veterans program was established, and explore scholarships for veterans and two grant-funded programs—one that helps veterans begin careers as nurses and another that enables veterans to reflect on their experience through writing.

You also can view a slideshow of photos that did not appear in the in the print edition of the magazine.

Student-Veteran Profiles

An Army Couple with Medical Career Goals

Air Force Couple Deployed Often

A Navy Petty Officer’s Worldwide Experience

A Veteran Air Force Mechanic Finds Purpose

Army Finance Officer Preparing to Teach

Veteran Alumni Profiles

A Korean War Combat Veteran

Veteran Alumnus Supports Students

Vietnam Veteran “The Singing Sergeant”

From Rutgers Law to Air Force JAG

Intelligence Specialist Serves Those in Need

Afghanistan War Vet Pens Memoir and Play

Additional Veterans Stories and Photos

Scholarships Support Student-Veterans

Revival of Rutgers Veterans Programs Began in Camden

In Search of Alumni Veterans

Nursing for Veterans by Veterans

Veterans Write

Veterans Photo Slide Show

Video from the Photo Shoot

All stories by Sam Starnes. All photographs by Jonathan Kolbe.

Posted in: 2020 Spring, Features

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