The state of Wisconsin is home to over 363,000 veterans and ranks 21st in veteran population in the nation. However, despite what seems like a high number only about 8.6% of Wisconsin residents are veterans, according to statistics gathered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. This means that veterans are a small minority and that their issues may not be heard as well as others.
For Payton Sullivan, a senior majoring in illustration, she knew that she wanted to turn her passion, art, into something that could benefit her community. When she found the proposal in the service-learning app she was instantly intrigued because of the challenge the project posed.
“I wanted to do a service-learning project where I was able to use my artistic capabilities to help the community but also challenge myself in the process.”
Sullivan decided to touch up a veterans’ mural on the outside of Northern Safari Army-Navy surplus store because of how prominent the mural is in the Eau Claire community and its high visibility location.
Sullivan wanted her service-learning project to be a learning experience for her as well as a benefit towards the Eau Claire community.
“I had never painted a mural before; and this project seemed as though it would not only help me grow as an artist, but I would also be able to give back to the community and spread awareness by doing something I love.”
Sullivan was drawn to this service-learning project especially because of how important she felt that veteran awareness is as well as the already welcoming attitude that UWEC and Eau Claire community has for the veteran community.
“Hopefully, people will see the mural and want to help spread awareness of their own. No act is too small when spreading awareness for military veterans; I feel honored to be a part of one of those acts.”
In a time where the veteran community is steadily shrinking and less than 1% of the US population serve in the military, it’s a good thing that there are Blugolds like Payton Sullivan who are trying to bridge the gap and spread more awareness for veterans.