Veterans in the audience stand to be recognized as the Veterans Ceremony begins in the University Center. The annual Veterans Ceremony at UW-Whitewater was held on Monday, November 12, 2018 in the University Center. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

‘Women of Valor’ exhibit key component to UW-W’s salute to veterans

By Todd Mishler

Copy Editor

Richard Harris said it simply was time to right a wrong.

And so the coordinator of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Student Veterans and Military Services office has joined forces with Roberta’s Art Gallery to do just that.

The result is an exhibit called “Women of Valor,” which will be displayed throughout November as part of UW-Whitewater’s salute to veterans.

Despite having served in all five branches of the armed forces, women’s military service to America often has been invisible. This display features the uniforms of female veterans who were UW-Whitewater students who have served honorably and courageously.

“Over the time I’ve been here I’ve heard a lot of female veterans who have felt like they’ve been underappreciated or undervalued,” said Harris, who has held his position since 2015. “I’ve heard people say to female veterans, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you served,’ and it’s just been frustrating, from their perspective, that they haven’t been recognized for their service.”

Harris said his department always has enjoyed a good partnership with the gallery, so this exhibit became a natural collaboration.

“I think from a big-picture perspective, for me, is that we’re using (these female veterans’) uniforms to send a larger message, that when you walk by you don’t distinguish between genders,” Harris said. “They put on that uniform and it says U.S. Army or whatever branch, it doesn’t say male or female. All veterans are of equal value.”

Harris knows of what he speaks. He served in the Army from 1985 through 1991, enduring four overseas assignments, including in the Persian Gulf.

The Chicago native attended UW-Whitewater from 2011-14, graduating with a degree in social work and minor in criminal justice. He earned a master’s from the USC School of Social Work.

Meanwhile, some visitors still may be surprised while taking in “Women of Valor,” when they start reading the individual stories that go with those uniforms and learn that they all, indeed, are about females.

“We wanted to put their stories together and asked them to contribute what they wanted to personally but also what was most important to them about their service,” Harris said. “We wanted to strike a balance.”

The exhibit and many other activities related to Veterans Day will be held in the James R. Connor University Center.

A reception for the “Women of Valor” exhibit will be from 1 to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays

“I really look at this exhibit as being historic,” Harris said. “As a nation, we continue to be involved in conflicts all over the world, and many people may not understand this, but women are a part of all of that. We’re trying to increase awareness and educate people. I believe we’re at a turning point in our history.”

Here are highlights from the rest of UW-Whitewater’s salute to veterans:


Nov. 9-15

Free bowling, billiards, video games and more.

In recognition of veterans and military service members, Warhawk Alley will host free bowling, billiards, video games and more during Veterans Recognition Week.

It is open to all veterans, service members and family with a military or service member ID.

For details about all recreational activities, hours and open bowling times, visit Contact Leann Sullivan at 262-472-5681 or email to set up a free reservation.

Location: James R. Connor University Center


Nov. 11

Veterans Day ceremony at the James R. Connor University Center, Room 275, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The program will include a moment of silence and then introduction by Kimberly Derr, vice president of the Student Veteran Organization; welcome from Chancellor Dwight Watson; presentation of colors from the UW-Whitewater Honor Guard; national anthem; distinguished speaker Amy Moore, a Navy vet and veterans benefits coordinator in the registrar’s office; keynote speaker James Theres, an alumnus and veteran; closing remarks from Curtis Lemke, president of the Student Veterans group; 21-gun salute and taps.

“Women of Valor” exhibit reception. Roberta’s Art Gallery, 1 to 2 p.m.


Nov. 11-15

Tying a ribbon to the Honor Tree is a silent way to say thank you to many different groups that have been affected by past and present wars.

White: In memory of a family member or friend who lost their life in service.

Blue: In honor of a family member or friend who is serving.

Yellow: In support and thanks to all veterans and military service members.

Black: In support and recognition of someone who was POW/MIA.

Purple: If you are a UW-Whitewater student or community member who is serving or has served.

Location: James R. Connor University Center concourse. 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Nov. 12

Community-based veterans resource fair in the James R. Connor University Center concourse from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Madison VA Hospital will have representatives on hand.


Nov. 13

Campus-based veterans resource fair in the James R. Connor University Center concourse from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Center for Students With Disabilities, UW-Whitewater Student Veterans Organization, Center for Communication Sciences & Disorders and the UW-Whitewater Registrar Office will be on hand.

Individuals who need accommodations for any of the above programming or events should contact Richard Harris at or 262-472-5236. Accessible seating is available at all events and locations.


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