CLEMSON — The Upstate Veterans Alliance (UVA) presented a check in the amount of $2,000 to Director of Military and Veteran Engagement Brennan Beck on Friday in support of Clemson’s student veteran scholarship endowment. The presentation took place in a short ceremony at Y Beach during the annual student veterans welcome back barbecue.

Members of the Upstate Veterans Alliance presented a check for $2,000 to support the scholarship endowment for Clemson student veterans.

Members of the Upstate Veterans Alliance presented a check for $2,000 to support the scholarship endowment for Clemson student veterans.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

“We started this nonprofit organization a few years ago and this spring were able to sponsor Clemson’s Walk for Veterans, and we really enjoyed that experience,” said Brandon Hutson, an eight-year Navy veteran and UVA co-founder. “We learned a lot about Clemson’s history and how much the university gives back to its veteran population. We are thrilled to donate these funds to the student veteran scholarship endowment.”

Hutson and special projects coordinator Wyman Balcom — an Air Force veteran — presented the check to Beck and members of Clemson’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA).

“I want to thank the UVA for this generous donation,” said Ty Robinson, SVA president and a four-year Air Force veteran. “This is not for the SVA or for Military and Veteran Engagement, rather this is for our entire student veteran population at Clemson to provide scholarship support. I want to thank everyone in attendance and on our campus for their service and look forward to a great semester.”

Brennan Beck was presented with an award for "service above and beyond" from Tom von Kaenel of Purple Heart Homes during the annual student veterans barbecue on Friday, Aug. 23.

Brennan Beck was presented with an award for “service above and beyond” from Tom von Kaenel of Purple Heart Homes during the annual student veterans barbecue on Friday, Aug. 23.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

After the presentation, Army veteran Tom von Kaenel of Purple Heart Homes made a surprise announcement. He relayed a story about a Purple Heart recipient in the area who was disabled and could not easily move into his house. With the help of Beck and about 25 student veterans from Clemson, the house was completely transformed over the span of two days.

“Without the student veterans and Brennan, we would not be where we are at Purple Heart Homes,” said von Kaenel, whose organization is responsible for making veterans’ homes safe and more accessible. “You have a great director at Clemson, and I’d like to present him with a recognition of ‘service above and beyond’ to improve veterans’ lives one home at a time.

“My father was a Clemson graduate and veteran and always longed for a time we would be a veteran-friendly university. Thanks to Brennan for helping make that happen.”

Beck, an Army veteran , first assumed a role as assistant director for Student Transitions and Family Programs in May 2016. He was promoted to director of Military and Veteran Engagement last fall and helped oversee the transition into a new, expanded Student Veteran Center in Vickery Hall. He also played a role in organizing and supporting the Walk for Veterans, which drew a record 350 participants this spring.

“It was great seeing so many faces for our welcome back barbecue,” he said. “Being connected and engaged is so important when you’re experiencing transition, like many of our student veterans. I’m thankful for a great group that made the effort to come out and fellowship with us.”