Military rivalry to bring camaraderie, raise awareness at Battle of the Branches

The annual Battle of the Branches hosted by the Veterans of Baylor student organization consists of a football game against the different military branches. Photo Courtesy of Caroline Burten

By Tyler White | Staff Writer

The Veterans of Baylor student organization is hosting its annual Battle of the Branches this Sunday. The various military branches will battle it out on the football field to see who comes out on top, while also providing fun for everyone with concessions and activities like ax throwing.

Mount Vernon junior Caroline Burten, president of Veterans of Baylor, said the organization wanted to create something to help them grow together as a veteran community.

“Veterans of Baylor is an organization specifically created and tailored around creating an environment for veterans that come to Baylor in order to transition from the military to an academic environment in kind of a more seamless way,” Burten said.

Burten said Battle of the Branches provides an opportunity for veterans at Baylor to embrace the friendly banter and rivalries of their branches in a fun game. She said the event was designed to allow people to come out and support the military while also feeding into the rivalry by supporting the branches individually.

“One of the big things in the military that we like to do is rivalries,” Burten said. “We have our branch rivalries. … We go back and forth, back and forth. It’s very much like a sibling kind of relationship where we can pick on each other, but nobody else from the outside can pick on us, and so we kind of took that and ran with it.”

Los Angeles senior Eden Milian, vice president of Veterans at Baylor, said the biggest goal of the event is to try to bridge the veteran community with the rest of campus. She said one of the difficult parts of being a veteran is feeling lonely when coming to campus.

“What we try to do is foster a community,” Milian said. “We’re trying to bridge that generational gap between us and the traditional students because there is a big age gap. So we’re trying to do events … and foster that sense of community. Most of us are used to being a part of a team, so it’s a way to still be a part of a team and still have that camaraderie outside of being in the military.”

Milian said that while Battle of the Branches is a great event for the community, it is most importantly an opportunity for veterans at Baylor to feel supported.

“We just want to make sure that our community here, plus our community outside of Baylor, want to expand our bubble,“ Milian said. “So we want to make sure that students and the outside community [know] we’re here, we’re here for you and you’re not forgotten.”

Beyond just the fun and games of the event, Milian said it gives Baylor students the chance to come out and support the veteran community. She said it’s important for them to show up so they can help invite the veteran community to Baylor.

“We would love people to show up and have conversations with us,” Milian said. “People think military and say, ‘Oh my gosh,’ [but] we’re not aliens from outer space. We’re approachable.”

Burten said she wants the event to be an opportunity for the Baylor community to hear from the veterans at Baylor and to learn more about them. Even after the event is over, she said she wants student organizations and classes to invite these veterans into their circles so they can learn from them.

“I encourage other organizations, other groups, even classes … to reach out to [us] … and see if they can get veterans stories kind of told across campus, because we’ve all got pretty wild stories to share,” Burten said.