Dolphin veterans given a new home

Defenders' Den opened in Founders


Emily Long

President Cost and other distinguished guests cut the ribbon opening the Defenders' Den

Jacksonville University has increasingly shown its respect for military veterans within the past year.

Continuing that pattern, JU dedicated the Defenders’ Den at noon on Tuesday, March 25 in the first floor of the Howard Building.

The Den, located in a newly renovated area in the Founders Building, is a space in which veterans can fellowship or study together. The 1,000-square-foot space has computers, a refrigerator, a microwave and a big screen TV. JU student ID swipe keys allow veterans access to the den.

JU’s Student Veteran’s Association President Danielle D’Amato, along with other school vets, approached President Tim Cost in Spring 2014 with the desire for a space specifically tailored to student veterans.

“They wished they had their own place,” Cost said to JU news and publications. “They have their own challenges; many have kids, many are older, and some were looking for a place to study and relax.”

There were approximately 200 attendees ranging from the ROTC department, professors, members of the SVA and JU faculty and staff. Among them, two-time graduate of JU, Mayor Alvin Brown, was in the very front seat.

“It’s a reaffirmation and confirmation that with President Cost’s leadership, veterans will continue to be successful not only at JU, but when they leave JU,” Brown said to JU news and publications. “He is investing in our leaders.”

Donnie Horner, Ph.d., JU chief government and community affairs officer, moderated the ceremony and presented opening remarks after leading the pledge of allegiance.
Horner then introduced President Cost, Ray Williams, Market Coach for Southeast QSR Taco Bell Franchise Group in Jacksonville, U.S. Navy retired Rear Admiral Victor Guillory, Director of Military Affairs Veterans and Disabled Services at the Office of Mayor Brown, and U.S. Air Force retired First Sergeant Doug Buck who is a JU graduate student at the School of Education.

Horner noted that the second highest demographic on JU’s campus are vets, hovering at approximately 10 percent, while athletes lead with 12 percent students on campus.

“I have felt comfortable and at home after starting classes at JU,” Buck said to the ceremony audience. “Vets need to be fulfilled and stimulated. JU has given me both of those.”