August 12, 2013
As part of the George Washington University’s commitment to service members and student-veterans, Veterans Memorial Park will move to a new location on Kogan Plaza, near the recently renovated entrance to the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library.
The park is currently located in an open green space by the intersections of 22nd and G Streets. A gift from Mark Shenkman, MBA ’67, a member of the GW Board of Trustees, will fund the move. Mr. Shenkman is also a veteran who served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Computer Systems Command from 1967 to 1969.
“This new location will elevate the stature of Veterans Park and increase its visibility among the hundreds of GW students and Washington, D.C. residents who walk through Kogan Plaza and the Gelman Library entrance every day,” Mr. Shenkman said.
Mr. Shenkman’s gift will also fund additions to the park, including an illuminated flagpole, sustainable landscaping, several wood benches and a wall that will prominently display the park name and insignias for all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Completion of the new space is expected in the upcoming weeks. There will be a formal dedication during a special ceremony this fall.
The university has a deep connection with veterans—it is the alma mater of many former servicemen and women, including Don Balfour, A.A. '44, B.A. '45, the first veteran to attend college on the G.I. Bill after World War II.
GW announced several military and veterans initiatives this year, in particular the GW Veterans Accelerate Learning Opportunities and Rewards (VALOR) program. The effort, designed to expand learning opportunities for student-veterans, is led by Vice Admiral (retired) Mel Williams Jr., who was recently appointed as senior associate dean for military and veterans initiatives. The university also increased funds for the Yellow Ribbon Program to help cover tuition costs for veterans and their families.
Additionally, GW was named a “military friendly” school by G.I. Jobs Magazine for the fourth year in a row and to the “best for vets” list of colleges in Military Times.
“Veterans Park will not only serve as a memorial to those who served and gave their lives in service of their country, but also as a reminder of the men and women who defend our freedoms on a daily basis,” Mr. Shenkman said. “The GW community has a large number of veterans, and we want them to know that they are not forgotten.”
Senior Tommy Davis, president of GW Veterans, shared Mr. Shenkman’s enthusiasm for the new park location.
"Having a park dedicated to our fellow military members located right in the heart of campus is a true testament to GW's commitment to honoring those who have served our country,” he said.
Heidi Wolff, B.A. ’12, a veteran and utilities project coordinator in the university's division of operations, said the park's move is consistent with GW's support for veterans.
“From my time as a student to joining university staff, I have been impressed with the respect our school gives to the military and veteran community,” she said. “This park is a daily reminder of what an honor it is to be one of the many student-veterans at GW.”