By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU


It’s been several years since AJCU dedicated an issue of Connections to veterans programs at Jesuit colleges and universities. Since then, our schools have developed new initiatives to help students who are joining ROTC as undergraduates or returning to the classroom after serving abroad. And as an Association, we have partnered with our local Jesuit alumni chapters in Washington, D.C. on two annual service projects to honor those who have served our nation.

Every December, a large group of alumni from Jesuit colleges and universities gathers at Arlington National Cemetery to place Christmas wreaths upon the graves of their alumni during the annual Wreaths Across America event. The “Jesuit group” gathering was initiated in 2013, when the DC College of the Holy Cross alumni chapter joined a group of alumni from Boston College and the BC Veterans Alumni Network to volunteer. The Fordham University chapter joined in 2014 and new schools have been added on each year. Regardless of the weather, we place our wreaths together in rain or shine, and gather in fellowship afterward at a nearby Irish pub. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, December 14; more information can be found here.

In 2018, the Le Moyne College DC alumni chapter welcomed volunteers from the Fordham University, Loyola University Maryland and Marquette University alumni chapters to greet veterans traveling to National Airport on an honor flight from Syracuse (where Le Moyne is located). The event was so successful that in 2019, alumni from Saint Joseph’s University, Seattle University and Spring Hill College joined in the fun! Both events were part of AJCU’s National Jesuit Alumni Service Days initiative, which takes place every spring. Dates have not been set for 2020 yet, but please check out our alumni events calendar for updates (and other events taking place before then!):

Not only do these events bring alumni together in service and fellowship, they also serve as a way of honoring St. Ignatius’ legacy as a veteran. He was a soldier in Spain, and the wound to his leg from a cannonball during battle changed the trajectory of his life. In fact, the life of St. Ignatius mirrors that of many students who enroll at Jesuit colleges and universities as adults, after serving in the military or the Marines.

Today, on Veterans Day, we thank our students and alumni who have sacrificed to serve our nation, and we thank our Jesuit colleges and universities for helping them upon their return home.