Within a 100 mile radius of Emporia State, there are three active duty military bases, but ESU’s number of veterans is still lacking.
“(ESU) is a small school, but they’ve got phenomenal professors, they’ve got phenomenal programs and we really do have a lot of veteran support in the community and in the school as a whole—(we) just need more veterans,” said Leon Bryson, alumni and former vice president of the Student Veterans Association.
The first step to building a more veteran friendly campus was attaining the veteran student lounge, which is currently located in the memorial union.
“I mean a lot of us are combat vets that have issues,” Bryson said. “We don’t have typical student issues. Some of us have families, some of us are dealing with PTSD. That gives us a place to go if we’re having those issues for just a little bit.”
According to Christiansen ESU also lifted the cap on the number of credit hours to coincide with the military experience.
“Obviously we want to work with our veterans,” said Gwen Larson, head of marketing and media affairs. “We work with veterans to help max benefits for their education if we want to do more that is up to the campus,” Larson said.
Although Yuliana Reyes is currently in charge of helping student veterans with financial needs, Bryson believes while that is helpful there are other needs that need to be met as well. He believes the greatest impact can be made for student veterans by bringing someone in that is a veteran them self so they can really understand not only the struggles of the military but the struggles of being a student veteran.
“They help. They’ve done the credit thing, they will provide tutoring if needed, the big thing is we have to go find it. It’s not readily known,” said Bryson. “Flyers are confusing, links aren’t functioning,” added Mark Christiansen.
The SVA and the Veterans Center raised enough money for a veterans hall to be put in Morse Hall. The hall will include a copy machine with a printer and scanner, a reception area for potential student employee staff, a meeting room space with a conference table, access to lounge space for up to 50 people, a small kitchenette, and a storage area. The next step is to hire a veterans liaison.
“Veterans liasion-that’s the one thing that I could see that ESU could really do to help veterans,” said Bryson.
The job of a veterans liasion is to recruit student veterans, answer questions, and to overall assist student veterans with anything they may need. Bryson emphasized the impact a liasion would have on the SVA and the entire school as a whole, commenting the position would pay for itself.
“Every week there are veterans getting out of the military,” said Bryson.
A major role veterans liasion would also take on is recruiting other veterans to ESU and guiding them through everything ESU has to offer.
“The professors at ESU are perfect. They’re hands on, they’re very understanding, they’re very helpful. Anytime I had a question they would go out of their way to answer that question, they would go out of their way to help. That’s why I think ESU is so perfect fort veterans. We don’t require a lot of extra attention, we don’t require a lot of extra help, but there are times that you do.