Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Admiral William McRaven speaks at Gala to raise money for returning Texas veterans

Rebeca Rodriguez

U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, who led the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, pictured here at the Champions of Justice Gala Benefitting Veterans in May 2012.

A year after he led the mission to apprehend Osama bin Laden, Adm. William H. McRaven returned to his alma mater to advocate for legal assistance for returning service women and men.

McRaven was the keynote speaker at the Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans Tuesday evening. The Texas Access to Justice Commission hosted the gala to raise funds for free civil legal services for low-income Texas veterans.

“There are people in the world who do nothing, but your military is doing something,” McRaven said. “I can’t think of a better cause than the work the commission is doing to also do something in this world.”

McRaven was in command of Operation Neptune’s Spear, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden last May in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He currently serves as the ninth commander of United States Special Operations Command. McRaven graduated from UT in 1977 with a degree in journalism.

More than 1.8 million veterans currently live in Texas. Of these, 450,000 served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The justice commission raised more than $413,000 from the event with all proceeds going to free legal services for veterans.

Harry Reasoner, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, said the commission works to help veterans through the continuous struggle of claiming the benefits they are entitled to,

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott were also honored at the gala for their work in helping provide funding for the commission. Texas distributes $1.5 billion in compensation and pension to veterans and surviving family members each year, according to the Texas Veterans Commission’s website.

Head football coach Mack Brown introduced McRaven, who he called an American hero. Brown said he learned what leadership was when he visited the Middle East in 2009.

“I took more from those men and women than they took from me, but I learned that leadership is taught. It’s not recruited,” he said. “Admiral McRaven is a special man. He’s a special leader, and he leads a special group.”

McRaven said today’s generation of service men and women are sometimes judged because of their appearance and varied ways of life, but their commitment to the values of the U.S. remains intact.

“Today’s generation of service men and women may have tattoos, piercings and Facebooks, but you are wrong if you don’t think they will go down as the greatest generation of our time,” McRaven said.

President William Powers Jr., a veteran himself, said the University was honored to have McRaven back on the 40 Acres.

Powers said the work of the commission provides returning veterans, including UT students, with valuable resources in terms of legal aid.

“There’s definitely more to do for our students that are returning veterans, but I think if you asked them they would say that UT is setting the standard for veteran services at universities,” Powers said. “Our soldiers provide a great service and when they are our students, well, I can’t think of a better combination.”

The University also offers student veterans various resources on campus through Student Veteran Services and the Students Veterans Association.

McRaven talked about the impact growing up in Texas had on his life and how that impact was something he took everywhere the military took him.

During his speech, McRaven told the story of a former colleague and friend that was killed in the line of duty. He, like many other Texas soldiers, upheld the ideal his father taught him, that Texans should stand a little taller and reach a little further, he said.

“When they come back to Texas, they will make you proud, and it’s our responsibility to help them,” he said. “Texas is a way of life and our soldiers are the type of people who pull up their boots and do something about it because of it.”

Printed on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 as: Gala raises money for returning Texas veterans

More to Discover
Activate Search
Admiral William McRaven speaks at Gala to raise money for returning Texas veterans