By: Mira Costello
As a community campus, we are fortunate to welcome students of all ages, backgrounds and life experiences. With a dedicated holiday on Nov. 11, one group in our diverse student body deserves a little extra appreciation this week: our student veterans.
This week, Titan Vets–the campus association for military-connected students–will host a variety of events to encourage students to get to know their veteran peers on campus and celebrate Veterans’ Day. Read on for more about them, and check out the graphic for their upcoming events.
Formerly the Student Veteran Organization, Titan Vets decided on its new name this year.
“‘SVO,’ to us, was sterile,” Scott Leeper, Titan Vets president, said. “It doesn’t seem welcoming. We wanted something that showed a connection between the vets and the school, so we settled on Titan Vets.”
The club, Leeper specified, is not only for veterans; spouses of student veterans, students with veteran parents, students in the reserves or national guard and even students interested in the military are also welcome.
Leeper, a Marine Corps veteran, said that Titan Vets’ primary mission is advocating for military-connected students, as well as dismantling stigma about veterans and their mental health. As a nontraditional undergraduate, he added that the group prioritizes bridging the gap between traditional and nontraditional students by using student veterans’ life experience to help their peers from all walks of life.
“Even though it may not seem it at times, we are very approachable people,” Leeper said. “We’re not just loose cannons with PTSD; we’re normal people who have had unique experiences.”
Although being a veteran comes with challenges, Leeper said he feels his experiences in the service have set him up for success.
“One of the challenges we face is that they teach us very well how to be service members, but we struggle to learn on our own how to be civilians again – how to be veterans, essentially. The transition is very challenging, which is why we see mental health issues so prevalently in the veteran community,” he said. “But we’ve had experiences that really set us on a path of success by resilience, or by pure grit; the things we’ve been through really set us up to operate at a high level, no matter what the challenge is.”
This Friday, if you can’t join Titan Vets for the RED walk-run, take a moment to thank a veteran and learn about what Veterans’ Day means to them. Or, take it from Scott:
“This day reminds us of the community that we’re a part of, of veterans that are all different generations, campaigns and branches of service,” he said. “It’s a day of recognizing the camaraderie that we have and the connection we have as vets.”