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When Harvey Higley 1915 marched off UW–Madison’s campus with a chemistry degree, he had his sights set on a life in the lab; however, the world had other plans. In between graduation and his decades-long career at Ansul Chemical, World War I broke out and Higley enlisted in the U.S. Army. After the war, he returned to Wisconsin with a newfound passion for politics and veterans affairs, determined to both protect and promote the interests of veterans across the country. When President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him as administrator of veterans affairs in 1953, Higley was charged with supporting the largest veteran population the country had ever seen. As Congress raised concerns over the cost of veterans’ benefits, Higley saw it as an opportunity to reevaluate veterans’ needs and work toward a broader support network. His primary initiatives included desegregating VA institutions, maintaining access to the GI Bill, and fostering appreciation for veterans. Higley had an army of advocates behind him in this mission, and he rallied Congress to propose new legislation that would establish an official holiday honoring all veterans. On October 8, 1954, Eisenhower informed Higley that his efforts had paid off. Armistice Day, a day commemorating the official end of World War I on November 11, was renamed and rededicated as Veterans Day — a salute to every veteran of the U.S. military. See how campus is celebrating these honored Badgers.

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Do you know any amazing Badger alumni who deserve to be honored by their alma mater? Nominate them for an Alumni Award today!