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With Veterans Day quickly approaching, UCF students are planning how to spend their day off. Regardless of what you do, remember to celebrate and honor America's veterans for their patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. The Central Florida Future asked UCF veterans about their experiences and what this day means to them. We thank you for your service.

John H. Flagg, Currently a Homeland Security employee, 2012 UCF alumnus

Served in the U.S. Air Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom

CFF: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Flagg: "The meaning of Veterans Day goes beyond just getting some discounts and free meals for things I've chosen to do in my life. This day is about honoring those that are no longer with us and that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, so young men and women, like myself can follow in their footsteps by protecting this country to the best of our abilities, so our loved ones don't have to."

CFF: What was the most difficult aspect of serving in the military?

Flagg: "The hardest part by far was leaving family and friends behind. It felt as if my life was put on pause and theirs kept moving forward. Despite all the forms of communication like email, phone calls and even Skype, things weren't the same and I felt like I was missing out on so much."

CFF: What was the most rewarding aspect of serving in the military?

Flagg: "The experience gave me a lot to be thankful for. Seeing how people in another country live and fight to survive and provide for their loved ones puts things in perspective. The things that we think we have bad don't compare to some of their lives. Also, it gave me a deep sense of pride in knowing that I can reflect back on that part of my life and say I volunteered to fight for this country and I did it knowing I would miss those that I care for the most, but it's the decision of service before self, that allows us in the USA to live the way we do, as opposed to some other countries that aren't as fortunate."

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Josh Dull, UCF Peer Mentor

Served in the Air Force and deployed to Afghanistan and Qatar

Central Florida Future: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Dull: "Honestly, Veterans Day is a special day to remember and honor those who have served and continue to serve. However, yes, most people use it as an extra day off drinking or barbecuing. It's an important holiday by any means, I'm happy my service and time can also get most Americans a day off from work, too."

CFF: What was the most difficult aspect of serving in the military?

Dull: "Being deployed, it takes a toll on your relationships. You have no say in anything. You live the same day every day."

Photos: Veterans commemoration ceremony

William Schroeder mechanical engineering major, Served in the U.S. Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Unified Protector

CFF: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Schroeder: "Veterans Day is a day to reflect on the sacrifice given by the brave men and women of all the branches of this country and to honor their sacrifice."

CFF: What was the most difficult aspect of serving in the military?

Schroeder: "The hardest part of going to war was probably leaving family behind, especially my first deployment when I only had 10 days warning before I switched units and went to Iraq — I started with Qatar."

CFF: What was the most rewarding aspect of serving in the military?

Schroeder: "The most rewarding part, aside from being reunited with my family, was seeing how everyone viewed me differently. It was one thing to go to boot camp, but a totally different view that they saw me with when I came home from actually doing something quasi-dangerous."

De-Sean Satcher, 2012 UCF alumnus

Served in the U.S. Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom

CFF: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Satcher: "Veterans Day to me is a day to pay tribute to the many sacrifices that men and women have made for the love of their country, family and friends. It gives the soldier an opportunity to reflect on himself and the journey he has voluntarily taken. And it also gives citizens an opportunity to pay homage to those who are willing to sacrifice their lives so that others may live and prosper."

CFF: What was the most difficult aspect of serving in the military?

Satcher: "The hardest part about war is being away from your family and loved ones. Military service members are used to dropping everything at a moment's notice to go save the day. So if something goes wrong while they are away, and that save the day element is taken away, it can be very stressful, scary and nerve-racking. Also, [it is hard] asking yourself if it's the last time that you'll ever be able to see your loved ones. Asking yourself if you loved enough, smiled enough and gave out enough hugs. It's always the small things in those situations."

CFF: What was the most rewarding aspect of serving in the military?

Satcher: "The most rewarding [thing] is being able to see the look on your loved ones' faces when you walk through the door. Or the crowds of people waiting to give you hugs, teddy bears and 'atta boys.' That feeling in that small moment is something special. You really can't explain it."

Danny Scott, Logistics Readiness Officer for the U.S. Air Force, 2007 UCF Alumnus

Served for the U.S. Air Force in Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently in Qatar.

CFF: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Scott: "Veterans Day is special to me because I grew up in a military family. While we all lead busy lives, we have this day to specifically recognize those that have answered the call in service of our great country. I'm grateful to my parents, veterans and my current brothers and sisters in arms for their service and many sacrifices in keeping our country free."

CFF: What was the most difficult aspect of serving in the military?

Scott: "The hardest part about being deployed is being away from friends and family. While Skype, Facebook and emails help, it doesn't beat being home, especially for the holidays."

CFF: What was the most rewarding aspect of serving in the military?

Scott: "The most rewarding part of being deployed is meeting new people and getting to serve with America's finest. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help defend our country by serving overseas again."

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