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Northwestern Veterans Earn Special Salute From President

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Marine Corps veteran Alex Deitchman never dreamed he’d get a coveted ticket to see President Barack Obama speak at Northwestern University Thursday (Oct. 2), let alone receive a personal shout-out from the commander in chief.

Yet when the president thanked veterans for their service at Cahn Auditorium, he directed it toward Deitchman, a political science major at Northwestern, and other members of Northwestern University’s Veterans Association.

“We’ve sent more veterans to college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill – including several veterans here at Northwestern, and a few here with us today in this hall,” President Obama said. “Thank you for your service.”

Deitchman generated his own good luck by sending an email to Northwestern graduate Cody Keenan, President Obama’s director of speechwriting. Several years ago, Deitchman read a newspaper article about Keenan, who was the principal writer on the State of the Union address that year.

When he heard President Obama was coming to the Evanston campus to speak, on a whim he located Keenan's email on the Northwestern alumni website and fired off an email request.

He said he was thrilled not only that Keenan responded with several tickets, but that he likely encouraged the president to recognize in his speech the work the veterans are doing.

“I was really honored,” Deitchman said. “Too few people know that NU even has student veterans, and it’s part of a larger trend of the invisibility of veterans at our nation’s top universities. Veterans are going to be at the forefront of the industries that lead America’s economy into the future. I’m glad the president and I share that vision.\"

Deitchman was joined by Northwestern alum Rodrigo Garcia, a Marine Corps veteran, and Megan Everett, a Navy veteran who is working on her master’s degree in public policy at Northwestern.

The Northwestern University Veterans Association works “to provide veterans access to resources, support and advocacy they have earned, deserve and require to succeed in higher education, to achieve their academic goals, and to gain meaningful employment following graduation,\" according to the group’s website.

“When military folks go overseas, they aren’t just protecting the country from terrorist threats; they are protecting a way of life and what the American ideals stand for,” Garcia said. “Today (Obama) struck that chord. We are the great United States of America. If we work together, we can continue to be great.” 

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