Illinois State University is a proud home of service members past and present. The University, ranked by College Factual as one of the nation’s top institutions for veterans, salutes those who have put on the uniform and served. 

Five Illinois State University students, staff members, and alums share what being a service member means to them on a day dedicated to reflecting and remembering the sacrifices so many have made.

Dani Abrams

Branch: Army

Served until: 2016

Rank: Specialist

Current occupation: Cyber security student at ISU

“It means that I took a leap of faith and fought for my country. I spent holidays and special events abroad, had long days and endless nights. And I had the time of my life doing so.”

Eric Boerngen 

Branch: Marines

Served until: 1997

Rank: Lance corporal

Current occupation: Outreach coordinator for Graduate Studies at ISU

“I believe that the opportunity to serve in the Marine Corps, and now to call myself a veteran, is an honor. It is an opportunity to acknowledge that there are things in life worth sacrificing for. As a veteran, I’d like to thank all of my brothers and sisters in arms for all that they have selflessly sacrificed for the honor to serve our country. Semper Fi!”

Rebecca Brown ’07

Branch: Air Force

Served until: 2005

Rank: Staff sergeant 

Current occupation: Office manager/admissions evaluator at ISU’s International Admissions office

“Some days it seems like a lifetime ago that I was in the Air Force and other days it feels like it was just yesterday. I’ve stayed connected to a lot of military friends through social media and it’s amazing to see where we have all gone over the years. I was in a career field that only had a handful of duty locations that we all rotated through so you kept running into people over and over again–this is my band of brothers and sisters! I feel like the closest comparison would be a fraternity or sorority but it doesn’t quite do it justice–nothing like bonding over a confidence course or gas mask training.”

Ashley Marku 

Branch: Marines

Served until: 2014

Rank: Corporal

Current occupation: Computer science student at ISU

“Serving meant putting others before yourself. My fellow service members would put their lives on the line for me and I them, you don’t get that kind of commitment just anywhere.”

Telisha Reinhardt, M.S. ’17

Branch: Navy

Served until: 2013

Rank: E-4/Engineman Third Class (EN3)

Current occupation: Military and veteran services coordinator at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

“Being a service member means family. With my service I have continued a family tradition, as I’m third generation military. When I look at old pictures from the 1970s and 1980s of my mom in her  Army uniform, I cannot help but to feel proud that I share that connection with her, that we both are veterans. When I think of my service I think of my family, and those who I served with that became my family.”

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