Student Veteran Life

Calling Home Ceremony

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 | 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Intellectual House wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ

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One of the greatest challenges facing today’s veteran community, and the American population as a whole, is the failure to adequately and satisfactorily reintegrate our service members back into civilian life. Our military is incredibly skilled at taking civilians and turning them into soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, but the system we use to return those individuals to their new lives as civilians has historically failed to successfully accomplish this mission. This is especially true of service men and women who have served in combat and in warrior roles.

In the American Indian and Alaska Native population, there is a tradition of historically higher percentages of the population joining the military due the pervasive desire to aspire to embody the warrior archetype. This is created by generation after generation serving their communities and nation through military service. In some tribes, service members who return home to their reservation after serving in the military are greeted as they arrive home by a large number of tribal members who are waiting to “call them home.” As part of this tradition, the welcoming tribe will hold a ceremony in the individual’s honor and host a large gathering including a sweat lodge to help the new veteran release their pain and scars derived from their military service. In this manner, the burden of responsibility becomes a part of the tribe’s tapestry, as opposed to expecting a warrior to carry these burdens on his or her own.

On October 5th, 2017, Student Veteran Life, in partnership with the Intellectual House (wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ), will host the University of Washington’s second annual “Calling Home Ceremony.” This ceremony is intended to help ease the transition of our new student veterans as they make the move to academia, to their new home at the UW, and to their new journey of self-discovery through education. The ceremony will include members of tribes from the surrounding area that will perform a traditional parading of the colors, fight songs, a drum circle, and will call upon members of the veteran community to identify themselves and step forward to be celebrated. This ceremony will take place under the advisement of the UW’s tribal liaison to ensure the appropriate cultural context is created and that cultural norms are followed in order to honor the traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native population.

As we build this program, we continue to find that this idea has far-reaching impact and support. Where past generations of veterans have not always been greeted on campus with a warm welcome, this program will also call them home so that they may return to campus and be a part of the celebration that they should have had when they first arrived at UW. By celebrating alumni veterans as well as current student veterans, staff, and faculty, we are creating a positive and lasting memory while healing the wounds of the past for thousands of Husky veterans.