Student Veteran Services (SVS) staff and faculty are offering resources for veterans on campus, through outreach programs, involvement opportunities and counseling, and encouraging people to be considerate of student veterans during Veteran’s Day.
Nicole Jablonski, SVS associate director, said there are many opportunities offered to East Carolina University student veterans on campus through the programs and services of the organization.
Jablonski said one resource is a veteran-specific orientation where a group of less than 20 students can develop relationships with other student veterans. She said this type of orientation can be helpful when student veterans feel isolated, especially when first arriving to the university.
“Many student veterans feel isolated on campus because they have very different life experiences than the traditional student,” Jablonski said. “This gives them an opportunity to both learn about the university and also make friends with each other.”
There is a veteran-specific COAD 1000 course which focuses on the transition of veterans throughout history, according to Jablonski. She said this course can help students to empathize with the experiences of past veterans and better understand their feelings as a student veteran.
Jablonski said there is a lounge for student veterans on campus in Mendenhall, room 254, where they can socialize with each other, study in a private study room, or have access to a textbook-lending library.
Women veteran-specific programming is offered on campus to try and reach out to women veteran’s who more often blend into the student population, Jablonski said. She said there will be a women’s veteran luncheon on Friday in the Main Campus Student Center, room 249.
Additionally, in the spring, there is a women’s veteran retreat which is an all-day event where women veterans can participate in wellness activities, according to Jablonski.
Jablonski said SVS partners with the English department at ECU to offer a two-week summer program where incoming student veterans can receive humanities credits in coursework focused on how warfare is reflected in art forms and discuss their personal experiences in relation to music, films and books.
“Green Zone Training” is offered at ECU through SVS where Jablonski and a student veteran panel discuss the struggles some veterans face while acclimating to university environments from the military.
“The student veteran panel is definitely the favorite part of the entire program for our faculty and staff because they love to hear from the students directly about their experiences and how they can do better,” Jablonski said.
Jablonski said there were no Veteran’s Day events held by SVS yesterday because many veterans at ECU generally take part in personal community gatherings and it can be a hard time for many student veterans who may have lost friends while serving.
Keyvien Oliver, student veteran at ECU, said he recommends other student veterans who are trying to acclimate to college environments find a friend group to help each other with the difficulties they may experience.
“I think I had a great peer group and a great class that helped me get through college,” Oliver said. “Definitely find someone they can relate with and work together, because it’s harder to do it by yourself than if you were to do it with someone else.”
Student veterans can lighten the academic stress they feel by taking one less challenging class per semester, like an online or elective class, according to Oliver.
Oliver said he uses the resources offered by SVS, such as the study lounge, the computers and the library to relax and calm down.
“I go in there (the lounge) and I speak with other veterans, we do a lot of outreach organization volunteer work so we’re always involved in the community at ECU,” Oliver said.
Kimberly Treece, veteran success counselor on campus, said she is employed by Veterans Affairs (VA), as a counselor and is one of two in North Carolina located on a university campus, as a part of a partnership between ECU and the VA.
Treece said she provides community and on-campus outreach regarding VA benefits to students who are using these benefits and helps them to be successful at ECU. She said she offers educational and vocational assessments and counseling.
Treece said she also offers adjustment counseling to help resolve any problems, including academic, financial or family problems, which interfere with the completion of student veteran’s education.
Treece said she has a few recommendations for student veterans who are on ECU’s campus to help them adjust to college life, including connecting with the Student Veteran Services office to gain access to events held by the office like the Veteran Brown Bag Seminar.
“This semester I’ve done a brown bag lunch series once a month, and a couple of them were on VA benefits specific to disabled veterans and another one that’s available to anybody that is using a VA education benefit to help them if they need career counseling or if they need some career guidance as to what they want to do with their education and their career goal,” Treece said.
Treece said there is another part of the brown bag seminar today, from noon to 1 p.m. on stress and time management.
Treece said Veteran’s Day can be a hard time for student veterans and she feels privileged to work with veterans at ECU.
“There’s a lot of attention at this time of the year and it makes them reflect on some of their own experiences, so it’s an acknowledgement of some of the sacrifices that they made and also an awareness that this is a difficult time of year for them even though they are being recognized and appreciated,” Treece said. “ It’s a day dedicated to them but it is difficult for them.”