More than 10,000 Clemson alumni have served in the armed forces. Each year, the University adds dozens to that list through its Air Force, Army and Marine Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, but until the late 1990s, there was no alumni group designed to support them.
After the dedication of the Military Heritage Plaza in 1996, members of the classes of 1950 1953 who planned and donated to the plaza realized that much more could be done. They began meeting in small groups to explore how to harness the energy of this steadily growing group of alumni. They quickly coalesced around the common goal of honoring alumni who served while supporting current students who are preparing to join the ranks.
They knew what was needed: scholarship dollars for ROTC students and increased visibility on campus through events like Military Appreciation Day. They created a formal group dedicated to elevating Clemson’s military heritage and developing opportunities to commemorate the University’s military history while forming endowments to supply scholarships to ROTC cadets. To date, the Clemson Corps has provided more than $2.6 million in scholarships to more than 3,000 Clemson ROTC students from around the United States. This year, they celebrate their 25th anniversary.
They’ve also made very visible contributions to the University, including the Scroll of Honor, which commemorates alumni who have died in the service of the country. It was dedicated in April 2010 and serves as a ceremonial focal point during each Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Today, Clemson Corps is made up of 18 board members and hundreds of veteran alumni and friends. It plays a role in virtually every military event on campus, particularly the annual Military Appreciation Week and Game. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clemson Corps widened its mission to provide services to the resulting influx of student veterans and other military related students.
“We’re wrapping our arms around student veterans because those who have served and are back deserve as much support as those just going in,” said Jimmy Mullinax ’94, current Clemson Corps chair. “We have about 400 student veterans and 300 ROTC cadets. If you count students getting the GI Bill, military spouses and other military-related students, that adds about another 700. That’s more than 1,400 students who can use our support.”
For this 25th anniversary year, Clemson Corps’ governing body aims to raise $400,000 to contribute to their endowments, which support scholarship aid and annual initiatives, including Military Appreciation Day and other recognition events.