Tuesday, November 19, 2013
American Warrior Week Takes Root at UNO
American Warrior Week is a new week-long philanthropy effort spearheaded by the University
of New Orleans' chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity. The fun-filled week of events,
which started with "special operations missions" for all seven sororities on campus,
is designed to raise awareness of issues facing U.S. military veterans, particularly
Midweek, students from across the university participated in a "car smash" on the
quad to raise money for Wounded Warriors, a national nonprofit that aims to support
veterans injured in service and their families.
A Kappa Sigma member donated an old car destined for the junkyard. Students paid $1
per swing and showed their strength in various ways.
By the end of the week, the sorority sisters and students from all over campus were
participating in a military-style obstacle course on the quad. Key challenges included:
clearing high hurdles...
...doing an army crawl beneath simulated barbed wire...
and climbing an eight-foot military wall.
The week culminated in an all-sorority laser tag tournament called "Capture the Signal."
Based on that old playground favorite, Capture the Flag, the game called for stealing
an opposing team's flag and bringing it back to home base unscathed.
Veterans' Day gained more visibility at the University of New Orleans this year, where
a local chapter of a national fraternity instituted a week of events to raise awareness
of issues facing the nation's military heroes -- and raise funds to help support wounded
"We really wanted to do something big this year, something we could respect," said
Dan Atienzar, president of the UNO chapter of Kappa Sigma national fraternity, on
Saturday. "This week being the most patriotic in November, during the fall semester,
we thought it would be the week to draw attention to military veterans."
Did You Know?
Kappa Sigma's Warrior Week was a huge success!
The UNO chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity ranked #3 in the nation compared to other
chapters of the national fraternity for number of service hours completed. The UNO
chapter reports 3,656 service hours completed.
In Louisiana, the UNO chapter ranked #1 for funds raised with $3,513 raised during
American Warrior Week, compared to four other chapters (one of which is LSU).
The UNO chapter also ranked #1 in Louisiana for service hours completed, with 3,656
All proceeds and service hours raised, go directly to the Military Heroes Campaign.
The UNO chapter of Kappa Sigma instituted "American Warrior Week" to honor military
heroes, said Atienzar. Each fraternity and sorority on campus raises money each year
to help a certain philanthropy effort, often that of its national organization. The
national Kappa Sigma organization runs a Military Heroes campaign and this year the
UNO chapter decided to center its energy this year around veterans of the U.S. Armed
Forces. Going forward, Atienzar said, UNO's Kappa Sigma chapter will host an annual
week of events during the week that starts with Veterans' Day, a national holiday.
"We hold our veterans close to us because a lot of our members are veterans or active
members or have siblings or family members who are veterans or active members," said
sophomore Mark Parsons of Metairie. "We hold our military veterans in the highest
American Warrior Week at UNO began on Veterans' Day, when the fraternity chapter assigned
each of the University's seven sororities a branch of the military. The sororities
in turn created flags and assembled materials to raise awareness then spent the week
collecting donations to help support veterans, particularly warriors wounded in the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, the sororities began doing special operations missions around campus to
draw attention to the cause, Atienzar said. Some of the missions involved "silly things"
like singing the Star-Spangled Banner in the University cafeteria or chalking up the
sidewalk to draw attention to the week's philanthropy. The plan, he said, was to get
fellow students paying attention as both the week and the cause gained momentum.
On Wednesday, Kappa Sigma hosted a Bootcamp Dash, a hard-core series of challenges
designed and led by Sidney Rougelot, 26, of Westwego.
Rougelot, who can often be spied wearing camouflage on campus, served four years of
active duty with the U.S. 2nd Marine Corps Combat Engineer Battalion out of Camp LeJeune,
S.C. The combat engineer served seven months as a route clearance operator in Afghanistan.
An assault breacher vehicle operator, he drove an ABV vehicle clearing mines and improvised
explosive devices to make way for trucks and convoys embarking on dangerous paths.
Rougelot also served seven months as a "straight leg engineer" in Iraq, doing weapons
sweeps, building bunkers and searching for stashed weapons, he said.
Rougelot, now a member of the USMC 3rd Battalion, 23 Marines Regiment, a reserve corps
based at the U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, La., built
an eight-foot climbing wall and designed an obstacle course for the Boot Camp Dash
held last week on UNO's campus. The obstacle course, which was open to everyone and
held in the campus quad, required participants to traverse balance beams, do an army
crawl beneath simulated barbed wire, clear several high hurdles and run through tires
at top speed. The challenge also involved target-shooting practice with high-powered
Rougelot provided safety training and gave military-style demonstrations.
"Our obstacle course was a lot more scaled-down than what we do in the Marine Corps,"
said Rougelot. "But it's still slightly dangerous so I wanted to make sure it was
on a level that they knew what they were doing and it was safe for all concerned.
I think it was just enough to be kind of intense for the average passerby."
On Thursday, Kappa Sigma hosted a "Car Smash" event on the quad in another effort
to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a national nonprofit organization
aimed at helping wounded warriors who incurred service-connected injuries or illness
and their families. A Kappa Sig member donated an old car and nearly 200 students
paid $1 per swing to swing heavy mallets at the vehicle destined for the junkyard.
"You could throw in $100 and have at it," said Parsons.
On Friday, Atienzar distributed manila folders marked "Top Secret" to each sorority.
Inside were special operations missions, or challenges of varying levels designed
to extend their knowledge and create campus awareness of issues facing military veterans
and their families.
The week's fun culminated on Saturday with a cut-throat game of Capture the Signal.
Based on the age-old playground game, Capture the Flag, the game pitted sororities
against one another. Wielding laser guns, the sorority sisters raced through obstacles
on the quad, trying to capture an opposing team's flag and bring it back to home base
without being stunned by an opponent's laser gun.
Rougelot, who has close friends from combat who are now members of the Wounded Warrior
Project, hopes the week of campus fun will continue to raise awareness and support
for military veterans.
"The hope is that it will get more and more popular than ever," Rougelot said. "On
our end, we did a good job. If we start preparing for next year now, it will be even