For student veterans, a new outlet

Katherine Rojas

Many veterans find the adjustment to civilian life more difficult than the hardships they have to endure overseas. A new club on campus hopes to make the transition a little easier.

Veteran Ian McAfee, a junior, is heading the effort to turn this idea into a student organization recognized by the university, because “there really isn’t a group like this on campus,” he said.

That void makes college life difficult for veterans like junior David Bernardo.

“I definitely felt out of place in my classes,” Bernardo said. “Not only because I am older, but because I had a little more life experience. Being in a group of people who are my own age and went through the same thing would be really helpful.”

As of now, there are five members, mostly veterans.

It’s especially hard for veterans to adjust to school because they’re not your typical students, Associate Professor of Finance Sean Reid said. Reid, currently serving in the Navy Reserves, served on active duty for eight years. Reid is the unofficial faculty adviser for the organization.

“Typical students can come to club meetings at night, but the typical veteran might be running home to get a quick meal before their third-shift job,” Reid said.

Reid said the school could do “a lot better” serving veterans on campus.

The club’s main goal is to support veterans on campus, McAfee said. That mission drew the support of senior Kristen Swartz, whose boyfriend is currently serving in Iraq.

“One of the hardest things I think for them is re-acclimating to the ‘civilian lifestyle,” Swartz said. “A lot of times our men and women go over there and they come back and they don’t get as much support as they really should or as much as they really deserve.”

Because this club is just in the idea stage, Associate Director of the Student Center and Campus Life for Student Organizations Erin Twomey is guiding them through the recognition process.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Twomey said. “I think it’s a great avenue for us to explore and for the students to explore.”

The next step is to vote on officers and touch up their documents before they can enter the chartering process, according to McAfee.