Veteran students acclimating to new center
Although Shepherd University veteran students haven’t had much time to use the newly dedicated Veteran’s Center at Gardiner Hall, they are responding positively to the space.
“It’s a place where the veteran students can go and meet other veterans and study. There’s recreation with a pool table, t.v., a fully equiped kitchen, computers, printer and an administrative office. They seem to really like it,” said Mary Beth Myers, International Student Services, Veterans Programming.
Previously located at the Free School on Princess Street, the veterans requested a move to campus.
“The veterans really wanted to be closer to the heart of campus. Once a space became available, we had them move in,” Myers said.
The Veterans Center is a manifestation of Shepherd’s commitment to support veterans and their dependents, for which the University received a 5 star designation for meeting a challenge set forth by the Office of Veteran’s Education and Training that encourages all of West Virginia’s two- and four-year institutions to adopt a set of standards to help veterans achieve an education.
Ann Wendle, the new Dean of Students at Shepherd is a veteran herself and explained the importance for veterans to have a place to congregate together.
“There is a camaraderie and also such a culture difference between veterans and the college environment,” Wendle said. “Veterans can sometimes communicate in a way can be perceived as offensive or discriminatory or prejudicial, but the reality is that when you trust somebody enough that you know they’re not going to let you die – and that’s the reality of our training and our mission in the military. We go to war, whether you like me or you don’t, I know you’re still going to save my life in the moment.”
According to Wendle, student veterans are within the minority on campus.
“In general, the student veterans are already the non-traditional students and therefore a marginalized group. Veterans tend to stay very strong in their identity as to where they came from. That’s important when you are over seas and are in a combat situation you need to remember where you came from. It’s how you get through. It’s your identity,” Wendle said.
Wendle said she has never seen the center empty and she anticipates that reality will continue when school commences once more in the fall.