EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. –
The Student Government Association and Office of Military and Veterans Services at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) welcomed Maj. Gen. Sue Henderson, Commander of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command in the Army Reserve, as the key speaker for the annual Veterans Day luncheon this past Thursday at the Morris University Center on the SIUE campus.
Veterans young and old, students, active military members, and member of the SIUE community enjoyed the afternoon’s schedule, which included a buffet, SIUE brass ensemble playing military songs, and words from the invited speakers.
Mackenzie Richards, External Affairs Officer for SIUE Student Government, welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the veterans for their service.
Kevin Wathem, Director of Military and Veteran Services at SIUE, talked about student veterans having the hard but important conversations to help solve shared issues for their community. He also announced the upcoming 75th anniversary of U.S. military integration, which will be a celebrated focus for the organization next year.
In her keynote address following lunch, Maj. Gen. Henderson spoke about her unexpected journey to the highest ranks of the Army Reserve, explaining how she often felt like an imposter and considered retiring multiple times. However, people in her life — her husband, her father, a brigade commander — kept pushing her to be the best she could be and find her “why.”
While there are about 19 million veterans in the United States, fewer than one percent of Americans currently serve in the military. Henderson spoke to the cadets and students in the audience about the benefits and variety of people in the Army Reserve, which she described as a “level playing field.”
“I couldn’t have made that claim back during WWI or WWII, but I can do it now,” said Maj. Gen. Henderson. “In the Army today, we do not care if you are tall, short, black, brown, white, male, female, gay or even transgender. If you are willing to stand by my side and fight for the freedoms we enjoy in this country, you are a soldier.”
In closing, Maj. Gen. Henderson thanked the school for hosting the event, and she left the audience with a final message on leadership.
“The road to success is lined with very comfortable parking spaces, but I would urge you not to park,” said Maj. Gen. Henderson. “You have to have a ‘why’ that is bigger than your ‘but.’”
The luncheon ended with closing remarks by Maj. Eddie Woody, Professor of Military Science for the SIUE Army ROTC Program, who thanked everyone for attending.