Silk red poppies lay vibrant against suit coats, a symbol of sacrifice worn by Americans to honor the service of veterans. To help pay tribute to veterans, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is extending an invitation to the community to celebrate Troops Week, November 11 – 15, which will include a Veterans Day ceremony, Academy Award-winning film screening and many more free and open activities held on the main campus.

The week will begin with a Veterans Day ceremony held on Monday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m., in the college theater. Lieutenant Colonel Alex Cantu, United States Air Force (Retired) will serve as guest speaker.

Lt Col Cantu joined the United States Air Force as a Second Lieutenant in 1988. He served in a variety of roles, including intercontinental ballistic missile launch officer, space surveillance crew commander, program manager, Air Force Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment commander and Air War College instructor. He also held staff positions in the Air Force, to include setting nuclear weapons policy and procedures, managing day-to-day operations of US Strategic Command computer networks, managing North American Air Defense Command space warning systems and spending a year in Afghanistan to help build the Afghan Air Force Academy.

Lt Col Cantu retired in 2015 after 26 years of active duty. Since then, he has been the Parkersburg South High School Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) senior instructor.

The Parkersburg South AFJROTC will provide a color guard to raise the flag while Artsbridge and guest performer Amanda Stevens lead the “National Anthem.” Stevens is a Parkersburg High School and WVU Parkersburg alumni who has performed in the Actors Guild of Parkersburg productions, local TV commercials, and the band MIXX.

“On Veterans Day, our nation honors the men and women who served in the military, both in times of peace, and in times of war. I love the way WVU Parkersburg honors our veterans by extending that sentiment into a week-long celebration,” said WVU Parkersburg Veterans Advocate Darren Shearlock. “Every veteran had to sacrifice to serve their country, and during troops week, the institution shows its appreciation by offering services for our veterans. We will host several veteran-centric, fun and information events, and I look forward to seeing the whole Parkersburg community join us during Troops Week 2019.”

The rest of Troops Week will follow accordingly:

Tuesday, November 12

Branch/Unit Pride Day: The WVU Parkersburg campus community is encouraged to wear apparel displaying a military branch or favorite unit. The Veterans Corps will also host a fundraiser, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., at the Veterans Resource Center. Individuals may honor a service member, past or present, by placing the service member’s name and branch on the Memorial Dog Tag display. Dog tags are available for $1 each.

Wednesday, November 13

Soul Injury, 10 – 11 a.m.: The informational session, presented by Housecalls Hospice in the college theater, will discuss a Soul Injury, a wound that penetrates the deepest self and pierces the ego. It disrupts a person’s fundamental identity, shrinking the sense of inner goodness; it can even fuel a haunting sense of defectiveness. But, a body can heal from the guilt and shame.

Rock Wall Challenge, 12 – 1 p.m.: Presented by the WV Army National Guard in the College Activities Center parking lot, the climbing wall is a way to try rock climbing in a fun, safe outdoor setting. The challenge of scaling the “easy,” “medium” and “hard” level sides of the towering fiberglass wall is popular with youths and adults.

Thursday, November 14

Santa’s Sweet Charity, 6 – 8 p.m.: The Mid-Ohio Valley Toys for Tots (a Marine Corps organization) will host a dessert competition in the College Activities Center. A $5 entry fee will allow attendees to sample treats provided by local competitors and vote for their favorite submission. Live music will be provided, and the organization will be collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys.

“Hacksaw Ridge” Movie Screening, 6 – 9 p.m.: Listen to a short presentation by WVU Parkersburg professor Aaron Crites about Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Then, sit back, relax and grab free popcorn and drinks for the movie screening of the Academy Award-winning “Hacksaw Ridge” in the student lounge.

Friday, November 15

Pool Tournament, 5 – 7 p.m.: The WVU Parkersburg Veterans Corps will host a pool tournament with the chance to win prizes. Sign-up for free by emailing Anthony Perry at, and put “Pool” in the subject line. The first game will begin at 5 p.m. in the student lounge. Prizes donated by Backwoods Woodcrafts by Vets.

Ricky’s Café will also provide refreshments for veterans, in the WVU Parkersburg Veterans Resource Center, all week.

WVU Parkersburg was recently ranked eighth in the nation by the Military Times Best for Vets: Top Colleges 2020 in the Career and Technical Colleges category. This ranking is based upon an institution’s military and veteran student policies, academic outcomes, military-supportive cultures and more.

For more information about Troops Week, contact Darren Shearlock at or 304-424-8337.

Established in 1961, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic credits earned at WVU Parkersburg are transferable to any institution in the West Virginia higher education state system as well as other accredited institutions throughout the country. WVU Parkersburg is the only public community college in West Virginia accredited to offer baccalaureate degrees.