SGA helps fund veterans center

The Student Government Association Senate unanimously voted April 12 to approve funding for a veterans support center on campus.

The resolution, written by Senator Jon McGee, will provide $25,000 to fund the center and those working there.

The veterans support center has been a concern since the fall semester, said Jesse Leslie, founding president of the Military and Veterans Alliance.

“The veteran’s center is what we recognized as being the biggest need on campus,” Leslie said. “We’ve been talking about it since last semester, but the real plans started on March 2, when Jon McGee brought the unused funds to our attention.”

Veterans or individuals with ties to someone in the military will be able to go to the center to receive assistance with benefits, academic support or connect with other veterans.

“It will be a central location for the veterans to receive comprehensive assistance during their time here,” McGee said.

Issues with receiving benefits on time have sparked the need for this center, but it is also largely an emotional issue, said William Nash, chairman of the ad hoc committee for veterans affairs.

“It’s much more of an emotional issue than people realize,” Nash said. “We want people to realize it’s not just monetary.”

McGee, who served in the army for four years, can relate to the emotional side of the need.

“I’m a nontraditional student, so it was a little awkward at first,” McGee said. “It was tough feeling socially disconnected, and it can be very tough for others. That’s why there’s a need for this. We don’t want to lose those students just because they feel disconnected.”

The Military and Veterans Alliance is technically the largest Registered Student Organization on campus, encompassing approximately 400 students, Nash said. He said the number is expected to rise with the transition to Division I and a support center will be an asset to the university.

Stephanole Reed, a sophomore and member of the ROTC and National Guard, said he thinks that having someone to work full time with the veterans will be beneficial.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing,” Reed said. “Earlier this semester, it was difficult to find someone that knew exactly what they were doing. It was a difficult process.”

Kelsey Prater, a senior who receives veteran’s benefits because her step father is a disabled veteran, said having somewhere to go will be easier than dealing with the hotline and website.

“From a non-ROTC standpoint, a central hub will be great,” Prater said. “Right now, processing takes such a long time, and there’s only one lady that deals with all of it. And trying to navigate the website and hotline is terrible and time consuming.”

Although the funds are secured, an official place for the support center has not yet been established, McGee said.