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Grand Canyon University salutes military veterans

PHOENIX — It’s become a tradition during the week around Memorial Day at Grand Canyon University.

Staff from GCU’s military division showed up for the fourth annual “GCU Salutes Our Troops” Tuesday at the Arizona State Veteran’s Home in Phoenix.

The staff led the veterans in singing “God Bless America” and other songs. They played card games, wheelchair bowling and made crafts. They handed the veterans dog tags imprinted with the words “We Salute You” as a gift.

GCU Community Outreach Manager Jose Moreno said the program is a show of appreciation to the veterans.

“The veterans here can sometimes be forgotten,” he said. “They’re here. This is where they live. This is their residence.”

Moreno said the university doesn’t meet with the veterans for publicity’s sake.

“We have a military division at Grand Canyon University,” he said. “We support the military very heavily in all of our community outreach efforts. We come here to just spend the day with them, do some activities and hear some stories. It’s about the military today. It’s about them and giving back for all that they’ve done for our country.”

One of the veterans who lives in the center is Bob Carpenter. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He wasn’t physically injured there but, once he returned to the United States, he lost his leg in a car crash.

Carpenter wished all Americans would pay tribute to veterans.

“I want to see if there’s any caring,” he said. “A lot of times with the young people, they don’t care. And you say to them ‘Hey guys, we’re keeping you free!’ So give them a second chance and listen to what the veterans have to say.”

Carpenter added that simply saying “thank you” to a veteran would go a long way toward showing them you care.