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The Task Force in Support of Student Veterans at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has another big idea for supporting student veterans.

They plan to pass out 1,000 “Buddy Poppies” to faculty, staff, and students to wear the week before Memorial Day, May 20 through 25. Last year, the Task Force passed out 500 poppies and saw enough interest to double the distribution this year.

“A lot of people asked about them last year because we were wearing them around campus,” said Mary Mahoney, assistant director of Career Services, who helped coordinate the program.

The Buddy Poppy movement was started by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization after World War I. It was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae, which described the red poppies growing on a battle site where many soldiers were buried. Later, some disabled veterans got jobs making artificial poppies for the VFW.

Artificial poppies are often worn on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the United States and on Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom.

Buddy Poppies at UT will be distributed on a card displaying “In Flanders Field.” The Task Force encourages campus faculty, staff, and students to keep the cards visible throughout the year to show support for UT veterans.

During the 2012 calendar year, there were 811 student veterans at UT and 143 faculty and staff veterans.

If you’d like to request a poppy for yourself or enough for your office, contact Mahoney (, 974-7791) or Marva Rudolph (, 974-2498).

The Task Force in Support of Student Veterans was established in the fall of 2011 by Vice Chancellor Tim Rogers to acknowledge the sacrifices of veterans and provide resources and support for veterans at UT and is housed in the Safety, Environment and Education Center. For more information on the Task Force or to find out how you can get involved, visit the Task Force website or email Ashley Blamey at