UO celebrates new Student Veterans Center April 20

Jonathan Brunton said the new center will strengthen the UO veteran community
Jonathan Brunton said the new center will strengthen the UO veteran community

It can be difficult making the jump from high school to college.

But taking time off after high school to serve your country? That can make the move to a university setting all the tougher.

Fortunately, a new facility on the University of Oregon campus will help student veterans settle into college life and succeed: The Student Veterans Center will provide a dedicated space for student veterans to get resources and gather with their families at the university.

The new center, located next to the UPS store in the Erb Memorial Union, will be celebrated with a public opening from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the EMU (the celebration will take place in the EMU Amphitheater, weather permitting, or in the EMU Taylor Lounge).

The center fulfills an original purpose of the EMU when then-UO President Donald Erb foresaw the return of WWII veterans to campus and worked with state officials to build the student union that was named in his honor.

“This has been a longstanding vision that is really going to help vets,” said Kelley Hickman, veterans program coordinator. “It’s a great space for people transitioning to meet other veterans and get used to a new culture.”

Hickman, an alumni and veteran, will be housed in the center. It will also include:

  • Veterans and Family Student Association, comprised of veterans who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, as well as their families
  • Dog Tags to Ducks, which helps new student veterans learn about campus resources by connecting them with those who have been on campus for a year or more
  • Campus and community volunteers, veterans services officers, work-study staff and career counseling/scholarship resources
  • Study and lounge space and computer stations

Benefits are one of the biggest concerns for veterans, and the center will provide resources and help with expediting paperwork that goes to Mary Earp, veterans coordinator, for certification of benefits.

Jonathan Brunton, a veteran and co-director of the UO Veterans and Family Student Association, said the center will improve connections among student veterans who already meet regularly for sporting events and to help each other with homework and other concerns.

“We have a lot of men and women helping each other succeed – it’s a great community,” Brunton said.

“Studies show that having a cohort as you move through higher education increases the chances for success,” Hickman added. “The center will help veterans have that cohort.”

The public opening will include a ribbon cutting and remarks by Brunton; Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America, based in Washington D.C.; and Robin Holmes, vice president for Student Affairs at UO.

The center was established through gifts from Alan and Jean Pedersen, Lease Crutcher Lewis and Office World, and will complement existing programs and services for nontraditional and veteran students. Nontraditional student programs collaborate with the Office of Veterans Affairs and the veterans program coordinator to provide information and resources for UO student veterans and their families.

-- story and photo by Matt Cooper, UO Office of Strategic Communications