CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — An announcement detailed that West Texas A&M University’s Office of Military and Veterans Services recently accepted a statewide award before the university is set to celebrate Veterans Day in early November.

According to officials, the service was one of 21 Texas public institutes that were awarded the 2023 Veteran Education Excellence Recognition Award by the Texas Veterans Commission on Monday, which was announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in early October.

“Colleges and universities across Texas are dedicated to offering exceptional resources and educational support to our brave veterans as they pursue opportunities in higher education,” Abbott said. “I thank these institutions for their ongoing work to provide comprehensive services for student veterans and military-connected students. Texans are forever indebted to our veterans and their families, and we will continue to help support their success so they can thrive here in Texas.”

WT said its office was also one of 19 institutes to receive a gold award on Monday in San Antonio, which was accepted by James Thompson, WT’s military and veteran services community coordinator.

“This award signifies WT’s commitment to its core values and mission. The emphasis on improving education, support and community reflects our dedication to those who have served our nation,” Thompson said. “This award showcases WT’s role as a leader in supporting education for our veterans, ensuring their successful transition from the military to academia and beyond.”

Shawn Fouts, senior director of campus community, noted to WT that the award demonstrates the dedication and hard work provided by both Thompson and Amy Criss, military and veterans benefits coordinator.

“James and Amy are unsung heroes and advocates for our military and veteran students and their beneficiaries,” Fouts said. “This award highlights their work to ensure the success of this unique student population.”

The TVC, according to officials, revealed that this was the first year in which WT has received the honor. WT noted that around 600 military and veteran students are served at WT where they have access to several educational programs that offer benefits for them and their dependents.

In addition, WT said it will partner with the City of Canyon for a community Veterans Day celebration set for 11 a.m. on Nov. 10 at the Veterans War Memorial on the campus.

Dr. Rodney S. Gonzalez, director of the Amarillo VA Healthcare System and retired colonel from the U.S. Army, will speak at the event. Officials added that Gonzalez also served as deputy director and chief of staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The event, officials said, will also include a flyover by the 27th Special Operations Wing from Cannon Air Force Base along with free hot dogs and Buffalo cookies.

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