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Gregg Hammond (Delta Pi, Indiana University '17)
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Embracing Veteran Leadership in Phi Kappa Sigma

When Colonel Gregg Hammond initiated into the Delta Pi Chapter at Indiana University, he didn’t waste any time approaching the subject of veteran representation and leadership within the Fraternity and the communities where Phi Kap Chapters exist. “The maturity of the country is much better [than it was during Vietnam],” Hammond said, “but it’s not perfect. People are still falling through the cracks and not getting the support they need to readjust to the private sector.”

He believes the Fraternity can help by providing a brotherhood and opportunities for growth that are not entirely unlike the military structure.

Hammond, who served for more than 30 years in the Marines and Army, knows firsthand the challenges veterans face circulating back to civilian life. After returning from Vietnam where he was a navy corpsman (medic), Col. Hammond went back to school at IU on a track scholarship, eventually receiving a bachelor’s and master’s in occupational therapy and a doctorate from Kansas State.

“I just wanted to help,” he said, explaining his indifference to the political climate surrounding the Vietnam conflict; “being a medic was the obvious choice,” he says as someone who would rather save lives than take them.

Hammond’s military career continued after Vietnam and into Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Civil Affairs Officer, Hammond played an instrumental role in establishing a provincial-level government in Iraq.

Over the course of his military career, Hammond was awarded five Bronze Stars (three in Vietnam, two in Iraq) and the Legion of Merit medal, the sixth-highest-ranking U.S. military decoration, among numerous other decorations and citations.

While the adjustment to civilian life continues to be difficult, the political climate is not as toxic as it was during Vietnam, when servicemen returning home often had to cope with the horrors of war in silence. Hammond, who was himself having a hard time adjusting to college life after combat, says he lost a letter grade in a class just for admitting he served. “There was no support, no separation of the politicians who started the war and the soldiers fighting it. It’s a little bit better now, but we have a way to go.”

Hammond’s goal is to help the Fraternity understand the advantages of embracing veteran membership in addition to the role the Fraternity can play in maintaining the wellness of returning vets.

And at a time when fraternities are more at-risk than ever, the leadership and discipline veterans bring to their classes, jobs, and organizations would prove invaluable to the goals and longevity of Phi Kappa Sigma.

“The values of Phi Kappa Sigma lined up well with those of the Army,” he said. “I would love to see some kind of program that encourages veterans going to a school where there is an active Phi Kap chapter to consider joining. 

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