AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University will commemorate Sept. 11 with an Honor Walk for military veteran students Wednesday at 9 a.m. on Cater Lawn. The walk will be in the form of a labyrinth designed on the grass.
The event will include appearances from Johnny Green, director of Auburn University Veterans Resource Center; Timothy Ullman, retired air wing commander who served as an Air Force chaplain; the Auburn Police and Fire Divisions; retired Marine Corps Maj. Jeffrey Dyal, a Lila White Fellow at Auburn University; Rev. Kerry Holder-Joffrion from Turning Point Consultants LLC; and the ROTC color guard.
The Veterans Administration, CAVHCS, will have program subject experts available for health care and benefits. In addition, representatives will be available at tables to provide information from the Veterans Benefits Administration; information on post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention, women’s health care, chaplaincy, returning service members (OEF/OIF/OND) case management, substance abuse and the Montgomery Vet Center. Veterans Affairs will have a table at the event, along with ROTC recruitment, and there will be a Veterans tent and a charitable station benefiting first responder families from 9/11 and victims’ families.
Green, the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care Services and Turning Point Consultants, LLC decided on the labyrinth layout to honor the people in Lower Manhattan who created a labyrinth pattern out of the dust and ashes and walked for the dead, the missing and the volunteers.
“Our hope for the 9/11 Honor Walk is to honor those who have served this country through their sacrifice,” Green said. “That includes the active duty military, veterans and first responders. It is important not only for those who actively participated in some way, but also for family members and friends.”
Labyrinths are not mazes that trap, but paths to the center with one path out. They are about a spiritual journey. Labyrinths have always been ancient symbols for healing and a path to renewal.
Green explained that the labyrinth provides an opportunity for participants to release their weightiness, represented by their burden of grief, memory, responsibility and pain. He said it allows them to receive openness, or some type of understanding, when they reach the center. It is a place of meditation and prayer to receive whatever there is for one to receive. Finally, participants reach the last stage, restore, where individuals become empowered, renewed and re-invigorated as they are able to get past the pain, hurt, loss and sadness that has haunted them for so long.
The walk acts as a three-step process to help the veterans and family members emotionally and physically. If done on a regular basis, it can reduce insomnia, chronic pain, blood pressure and helps increase concentration. It also benefits those with physical injuries such as traumatic brain injury and amputations, as well as those with psychological wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma and suicide prevention.
For more information please go to http://www.auburn.edu/academic/provost/undergrad_studies/veterans/.
(Written by Jourdan Cooper.)