Military veterans have made up but a small fraction of Princeton’s undergraduate class in recent years. There were two veterans in the freshman class in 2013; this year, there are just five. Now, a group of alumni veterans has launched an effort to provide support for students and alumni with military backgrounds, and it hopes to help attract more veterans to the University.

The Princeton Veterans Association (PVETS) hopes to “engage with a large number of Princeton alumni who share having worn the cloth of the nation and bring them back into the life and fabric of the University,” says retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Andrew Davis ’70, one of the group’s founders, who served as a rifle platoon commander during the Vietnam War. “Some have felt separated from the University and that the University no longer valued military service.”

It is uncertain how many living alumni have served in the military, but the number could be as high as 10,000, Davis says. A new field on TigerNet asks alumni to add details of their military service. PVETS hopes veterans will update their profiles, so they can be invited to join.

In addition, PVETS hopes to assemble a network of alumni veterans who could meet with members of the military who are considering attending Princeton. “It improves the culture of the University to have more veterans. Learning about their experiences adds to the quality of the education for other students,” says former Congressman Jim Marshall ’72, who served in infantry combat during the Vietnam War. 

Adds Ray DuBois ’72, who was a combat intelligence-operations sergeant in Vietnam, “We want to make Princeton welcoming for young veterans today.” 

PVETS, which also seeks to broaden the understanding of military service and national security on campus, is co-sponsoring an April 7 symposium titled “Defending Democracy: Civil and Military Responses to Weaponized Information.” Speakers include retired Adm. Cecil Haney; retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director; and former FBI special agent Clint Watts. 

PVETS also hopes to offer mentoring for students and alumni, assistance in finding employment, and fundraising for scholarships. There will be social events as well. One of the first was a get-together of veterans — alumni and undergraduate — during Alumni Day weekend in February.