Dominican Veteran Students Tie Yellow Ribbons Around Trees on Campus

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In honor of Veterans Day on Monday, November 11, 2019, the Veteran Services Office and members of the new Dominican University Student Veterans Organization (DUSVO) tied yellow ribbons around trees on campus to honor active duty military and veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Yellow Ribbons could be seen on trees lining Acacia and Magnolia Avenues, as well as trees throughout the interior campus.

“Displaying yellow ribbons symbolizes support of soldiers on active duty, and gratitude for those who have served, as well as support for military families," said Santos Carter, Veterans Coordinator and Financial Aid Counselor. "Although the military has never adopted yellow ribbons in any official capacity, yellow ribbons are recognized as a way to honor those who have offered their service in the Armed Forces."

As the veteran student population at Dominican has grown over the last few years, so has the Veteran Services Office to assist veterans and military-connected students. In 2019, Dominican had 27 veteran and military-connected students enrolled receiving some form of VA education benefit, many of whom are taking advantage of Dominican’s Yellow Ribbon program.

The Veteran Services Office is located in the Anne Hathaway Building, which includes a veteran student den on the second floor for veterans to study, and for the student veteran organization to meet.

In October 2019, DUSVO was officially recognized as a charter of the Student Veterans of America national organization. Membership is open to Dominican’s veteran and non-veteran student populations. There were at that time eight members and two veteran faculty sponsors.

The DUSVO faculty sponsors are Dr. Olivia Catolico, professor in the Nursing Department and a veteran having served in the U.S. Air Force, and Dr. Charity Keplinger, Associate Director of Clinical Education in the Physician Assistant Program, who served as Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The veterans organization was developed to provide a positive presence for veterans and dependents of veterans and active duty personnel on campus while contributing to the overall cultural diversity of the University,” said Kenneth Waters, DUSVO’s first president. “We want to make a positive lasting impact during our time here.”

Waters, a nursing major, said DUSVO is an inclusive organization dedicated to the promotion of those serving on active-duty, veterans, reservists, military spouses, and dependents and survivors of military personnel. "Its purpose," he says, "is to help address the challenges faced by military members transitioning from military service to the Dominican Experience by facilitating supportive services and an active involvement within the campus and the surrounding community of Marin County.”

Reaching the rank of Hospital Corpsman Second-Class (E-5) within the first 2 ½ years of service in the U.S. Navy, Waters was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 while attached to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. After finishing his military service, he decided to continue working in the healthcare field as a civilian. Waters was attending Diablo Valley College when he learned about Dominican’s Nursing program.

“We are making a positive presence for the veterans and military-connected students here at Dominican and we hope to grow our veteran student population, as well as membership into the veteran organization,” Waters says, “Our focus will be on expanding our presence on campus and in the surrounding community. Tying yellow ribbons around some of the trees throughout campus is a way to honor those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces and also bring attention to the resources that the university has available.”

For more information about the DUSVO or the Veteran Services Office, please email

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