Business & Society

USU Named Finalist for Excellence in Service Award for Efforts to Support Veterans

By Marcus Jensen |

USU President Elizabeth Cantwell speaks to student-veterans and others at a luncheon held for campus community veterans on Nov. 10, 2023. Cantwell was the main speaker at the event. (Photo Credit: USU/Levi Sim)

Utah State University was a top-10 finalist for the 2024 Operation Hat Trick Excellence in Service award. The award recognizes the outstanding efforts of universities in aiding the recovery of wounded U.S. combat service members and veterans.

“I am greatly appreciative that the university’s efforts to provide top-tier academic support to student-veterans and current service members has been recognized by Operation Hat Trick through this nomination,” said Andy Allen, director of USU’s Veterans Resource Office. “We are very proud to be an active participant in the VA’s VITAL Program, which aligns itself perfectly with the OHT mission of helping veterans and service members ‘move past the traumas of battle so they can focus on their lives and families at home.’”

Because USU finished in the top 10 this year, Operation Hat Trick is donating $17,500 to the Rocky Mountain Veterans Center in the university’s name. The Rocky Mountain Veterans Association mission is to improve and optimize programs, benefits and services to veterans, service members and their families. Operation Hat Trick donated $205,000 to various organizations in the names of the 10 finalists, which were announced on May 8.

During the year, USU ran several events and campaigns to help promote veterans and service members. USU’s efforts included a Veterans Wall of Honor that highlighted hundreds of veterans in the campus community; a luncheon held for campus community veterans, which featured USU President Elizabeth Cantwell as the main speaker; as well as a banner on the USU home page and a Google ad campaign that garnered more than 62,000 impressions.

“We are committed to honoring the courage, dedication and sacrifice of our veterans,” said Heidi Adams, USU director of Trademark Licensing, whose office runs many of the university’s campaigns. “This donation will be used to support veterans in the Cache Valley community. We are grateful for OHT's collaboration with Utah State and their continued donations to our local veteran services.”

The finalists were chosen based on their efforts to fully integrate Operation Hat Trick on and off their campuses through a presence in their bookstores and other retail outlets; promoting veterans’ causes through their social media properties and advertising campaigns; and generating additional revenue that will be used to support the recovery of wounded service members and veterans. Operation Hat Trick sells branded merchandise whose profits are donated to selected organizations that fulfill the Operation Hat Trick mission of generating awareness and support for the recovery of wounded military service members and veterans.

To learn more about Operation Hat Trick, visit For more information on the USU Veterans Resource Center, visit

Flags are displayed on the Quad at Utah State University during the 24-hour Veteran's Day vigil on Nov. 10, 2023. (Photo Credit: USU/Jesse Walker)


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Heidi Adams
Director, Trademarks and Licensing
Marketing and Communications


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