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New Fund at USF Honors Veterans of Past Wars, Provides Financial Support to Current Student Veterans

John Jacoby, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, is the first recipient of the Next Greatest Generation Fund created by the Office of Veterans Success at USF

University of South Florida student John Jacoby remembers the feeling of helplessness and loss his family felt standing outside their Lakeland home and watching it burn to the ground. After Hurricane Irma hit in September, Jacoby, his wife and their infant son lost the house and all their belongings in an electrical fire.

“It was surreal,” said Jacoby, 22, a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Afghanistan. “And it’s been overwhelming that so many people at USF have come together to help us.”

USF student veteran John Jacoby with wife Emilee and 5-month-old son Christopher

Jacoby is the first recipient of the new Next Greatest Generation Veteran Fund, created by the Office of Veteran Success at USF, which provides programs and services to help veterans successfully transition from military life to campus to a career. He was among the speakers Nov. 7 when USF honored 27 veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War who have been memorialized by their families with donations to help establish the fund. At the ceremony in the Marshall Center Ballroom C, USF unveiled a plaque and accompanying display book, including each honoree’s name, photo and story, which will eventually be permanently displayed in the Office of Veteran Success.

The recently endowed Next Greatest Generation Veteran Fund is made up entirely of gifts from families and friends paying tribute to and preserving the memories of beloved veterans who served in wars of the 20th century. The funds will be used to help veterans of the 21st century achieve success beyond service through higher education. More than $40,000 has already been raised.

The USF Office of Veteran Success unveiled a plaque engraved with the name, rank, branch and time of service of combat veterans of 20th century wars being memorialized by their family members or friends. The names of 27 veterans, living and deceased, were announced during a charter honor roll call.

“It’s a wonderful way to pay tribute to both past and present veterans for the sacrifices they’ve made to keep our country safe,” said Steve Blair, vice president of development for the USF Foundation.

The fund provides competitive awards, scholarships and other academic or programmatic support to USF’s student veterans. It may also be used to remove financial obstacles impeding a student veteran’s success, as in the case of Jacoby.

Larry Braue, EdD, director of the USF Office of Veterans Success, addresses the audience of honorees, family members and student veterans assembled for the ceremony launching the Next Greatest Generation Veteran Fund. Attendees traveled from across Florida and as far away as Ohio and New York.

“The fund has literally helped us put food on the table, provided the clothes I’m wearing and gas to get us here today,” said Jacoby, who was joined at the ceremony by wife Emilee and 5-month-old son Christopher.

The USF ROTC, where John is a member, also assisted the Jacoby family by holding a fundraiser.

Jacoby enrolled at USF in August as an undergraduate with the goal of earning a degree in science education with an emphasis in physics. He plans to return to the military as an officer following graduation.

Steve Horton, left, USF coordinator of veterans support, was presented with a Patriot Award for "20 years of honorable service." Braue, right, credited Horton as the driving force behind the creation of the new fund: "He is not a veteran, but he has the heart of a veteran."

Larry Braue, EdD, director of the Office of Veteran Success, said he has seen the struggles of student veterans in transitioning from active duty to campus life, including financial debt, the pressures of staying in school while working and caring for children, or even the emotional burden of past deployments.

“When they leave the service, they suddenly have to move in a new direction without the support and camaraderie of the military community,” Braue said. “By contributing to the fund, donors will make a tangible difference in the lives of our student veterans, helping provide crucial support during a critical transition from military service to college… This fund can help them make it through school and pursue the careers they so richly deserve.”

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Among the honorees was Vietnam War veteran Timothy Farrell, who served as a mechanic and 30 caliber top gunner in the 3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He was awarded two Purple Hearts.

At the ceremony, Jacoby had the opportunity to meet and thank some charter fund donors, such as veteran Tim Farrell of Fort Lauderdale. Farrell served as a Marine sergeant in the Vietnam War and received two Purple Hearts, including one after taking a bullet across the nose and cheek while firing a machine gun during an enemy ambush. His brother, an Army medic, was killed in action in Vietnam.

“It was great to meet John in person to see where the dollars go,” said Farrell, who owns a business with his wife and volunteers as a board member for the National Veteran Small Business Coalition. “For me the fund was a way to give back to the community and help veterans succeed.”

John Jacoby, the Next Greatest Generation Veteran Fund's first recipient, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and is enrolled at USF as a freshman.

USF is ranked by Military Times as the #1 Best for Veterans College in the nation.

To learn more about the Next Greatest Generation Veterans Fund, or to make a gift, contact Larry Braue at 813-974-9935 or lbraue@usf.edu,

Each veteran honoree or their family member received a commemorative medallion.

-Story by Anne DeLotto Baier, University Communications and Marketing, and Renee Hunt, USF Student Affairs
-Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

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