By Shelby Shepherd – Staff Writer
Stopping to shake their hand, offering to pay their dinner bill and leaving a note simply saying ‘thank you for your sacrifice,’ are some of the things people do to show their appreciation to our nation’s veterans. St. Ambrose University has come up with its own way to show their gratitude to those who have protected this country.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, St. Ambrose is celebrating their second Military Appreciation Day. The day will be celebrated with the SAU Fighting Bees basketball doubleheader against William Penn, and will feature a familiar face.
SAU alum Capt. James “J..J.” Kostnat, who was an All-American conference basketball player during his time with the Fighting Bees, will receive the Fighting Bee Award during halftime of the men’s basketball game. After graduating from St. Ambrose in 2003, Kostnat joined the Marine Corps, and according to Andrew Gates, coordinator of veterans recruitment and services, Kostnat was very successful.
“He became a Marine officer, served with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq, took part in a pretty high-profile operation over in Afghanistan, so he’s got an interesting story to tell,” Gates said.
But Kostnat is only a small part of this year’s Military Appreciation Day. Veterans and service members currently attending SAU will also be recognized at halftime of the men’s game. During halftime of the women’s game, the oath of enlistment will be given to future area Marines and Airmen.
Friday, Jan. 31, will also give people the opportunity to listen to a panel of nine veterans who are alum, students, faculty or staff at St. Ambrose. These individuals will share their stories about their time in the military, the transition back into civilian life as well as their experiences at the university.
During, Saturday’s game, Lee Lohman Arena will be offering free admission to any active military members as well as veterans. Free admission will also be given to anyone who donates three non-perishable food items. The donations will be sent to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Homeless Outreach Center in Rock Island, Ill.
“With it being so cold, a lot of the people who use [the VA] services have actually depleted a lot of what they have,” Gates said. “So the goal is to raise funds and help them replenish their food and clothing bank.”
Funds from t-shirt sales are also being used to help out the VA and will be sold during the games.
The women’s game tips off at 1 p.m. followed by the men’s at 3 p.m.