By: LESLIE LESTINSKY
Veteran Student Services only goes so far to assist former military students in making the transition from military life to student and civilian life. The Student Veteran Organization (SVO) serves to bridge that gap.
The club is not campus funded; it operates similarly to other student clubs. Tamika Johnson is staff advisor to the IUSB chapter of the larger national organization, Student Veterans Organization of America.
The IUSB chapter formed in 2000. Current members are working diligently to revive the club and gain momentum in membership and outreach.
Karen White provided the SVO office space. Other staff members, such as Vicky Bloom, Cathy Buckman and Rick Dennie, have also been instrumental in supporting the club.
According to the club’s Titan Atlas page, there are currently 22 student members. SVO President, Zachary Quiett reports, “… about seven members are regularly active and contributing, which is an improvement from the four that were active this summer.”
Past members worked with the university to raise awareness. Current members want to harness that momentum and build on it.
“We hope to achieve this by getting more services on campus for veterans and providing social transition guidance.” Quiett said, “Veterans come home and there is a disconnect between the culture they have been in for years and academic culture they are now immersed in.”
They may have gone straight from high school into the military, were active for some years, now are out and pursuing a college career. They often don’t know what steps to take to be successful in an academic setting, Quiett said.
There are many resources IU South Bend has available. The goal is to point vets in the direction of those resources so that a successful academic career will then transition to successful employment.
“We’re hoping to get a study space where student vets can come have a quiet place to do homework but also serves as an outlet, a place they can come talk to other vets and find support they need—a veteran’s lounge of sorts,” Quiett said. “It’s in that space we will have the opportunity to connect with vets on campus, come along side them to facilitate a positive academic experience.”
The SVO hopes to implement G.I. bill counseling, become an admissions point of contact for vets, work with disability services and counseling center, provide a simple checklist of application and admission steps to be taken and vet specific new student orientation, Quiett said.
SVO also looks to work with the university to enable early enrollment for vets.
“If a vet needs a certain class to complete their degree and that class fills up and they can’t complete that course during the time their GI bill will cover it,” Quiett said, “that could be a show stopper for a lot of people. They can’t afford it on their own, degree completion gets delayed by years.”
They also want to ensure deployment doesn’t result in course withdrawals or lower grades.
“We hope to have a liaison in each school for vets that are interested in that particular school, someone that can answer degree specific questions,” Quiett said.
Students do not have to be affiliated with the military to be part of SVO. Anyone that is interested in the cause can volunteer. SVO will have tables around campus Nov. 11 with more information available.
GI Bill Counseling: Administration Building Room 147 (574)-520-4115 firstname.lastname@example.org
SVO Office: Administration Building Room 118C (574)-520-4698 email@example.com