Pacific University will celebrate Veteran’s Day in a big way this year, with plans to unveil the newly established Veteran’s Resource Center to members of the Pacific community on Nov. 12.
“We want veteran students to feel like they have a place of their own,” Justin Li, manager of student support and co-coordinator of Veterans Services said. “And a place that is understanding of what they have been through.”
According to Li, the idea to create a space for veteran students was first pitched last year, after a group of transfer veteran students met with the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Mark Ankeny and requested more be done in terms of public support services for veteran students and alumni.
“These students said, ‘look, we would like to see more being done,’” Li said. “And through their efforts and their passions, they were able to get people to agree with them and sign on.”
According to Li, Pacific tends to average around 50 enrolled veteran students each year, split between the undergraduate and graduate campuses. And once the Veteran’s Resource Center opens, all students, faculty, staff and even alumni, will be welcomed and encouraged to visit.
“The hope is that we get alumni participation,” Li said. “Particularly around mentoring and helping make adjustments back to civilian life.”
Though Pacific had originally planned to place the Veteran’s Resource Center inside an empty house on Main St., near Hanson Stadium, the house’s interior required major renovations.
“Ultimately, there were some infrastructure problems,” Li said. “It largely came down to it not being ADA accessible, and not feasible to bring it up to code.”
Instead, the Veteran’s Resource Center will be housed in Clark Hall, and located on the third floor.
“We have an office side, and area with work stations and computers,” Li said. “And then alounge space attached next door.”
According to Li, the center will become a hub for educating both veteran and non-veteran students.
“We want to make this center not just a place for veterans, but for anyone, to come get information and get to know people,” Li said. “One of the things we are trying to get veterans students more aware of is knowledge of their benefits. Pacific actually participates in what is called the Yellow Ribbon program, which essentially matches funds. So if your GI Bill isn’t enough, we try to make sure you’re still able to attend school.”
Li is hopeful the center will help veteran students and alumni feel more welcomed at Pacific in the future.
“Now, when we talk about veterans, we’re talking about 20-21 year olds,” Li said. “They look just like all of our other students, but they have such a different world view, and we need to do a better job of integrating that.”