Winter 2024 Issue

Spotlight: Association of 1775

Connecting those who serve our nation

By Claire De Lisle M.B.A. ’21

HAVING A BLAST: ROTC students from William & Mary and Christopher Newport University learned from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team at Fort Gregg-Adams about their work during a trip sponsored by the Association of 1775. (Photo courtesy of James Callis ’97)

The Association of 1775 (Ao75), named in recognition of the Revolutionary War service of William & Mary students, is the W&M Alumni Association’s network for alumni who serve or have served in the military or federal government. It works to strengthen relationships among these alumni and the university and to serve as a resource for two communities on campus: students seeking to enter government service or the military and student military and veterans. Read more about Ao75.

Each year’s Ao75 Military & Veterans Breakfast during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend brings alumni, student veterans and their families together for a celebration of service and shared experience. This year’s breakfast, held during the Year of the Arts, featured Brian Jenkins ’16, executive director of Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP), the nation’s largest military arts organization. ASAP got its start eight years ago at William & Mary when founder Sam Pressler ’15 started teaching comedy workshops on campus, which eventually extended to other forms of art. Since then, more than 4,000 veterans — including those in William & Mary’s Veteran-to-Executive (W&M VET) certificate program, Flourishing Through Life Transitions — have participated in an ASAP class to express themselves and build community through art and storytelling. ASAP amplifies the voices and stories of veterans, service members, military spouses, family members, caregivers and survivors, just as Ao75 works to do within the W&M community. In December, Jenkins was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for social impact because of his work with ASAP.

In November, Ao75 hosted a field trip for ROTC cadets from W&M and Christopher Newport University to visit Fort Gregg-Adams, formerly Fort Lee. There, they met with representatives from the U.S. Army quartermaster, transportation and ordinance branches and learned about career paths for new commissioned officers. Throughout the day, they interacted with and asked questions of military and veteran alumni, and the field trip concluded with Col. James Callis ’97 sharing his three pillars of good leadership: character, competence and compassion.

To sign up for updates about Ao75 and learn about upcoming events, visit