The Southern Utah University Veterans Resource and Support Center exists to retain and graduate veterans by delivering programs and services designed to support them as they pursue their educational goals leading to a productive and meaningful life.
The center is staffed with ten veterans: two full-time and eight part-time employees. These individuals acutely understand military culture and are aware of obstacles that might arise while pursuing an education utilizing veteran benefits.
Veterans’ Center Director, Caleb Vadnais, expressed how important it is that students feel welcome in the center. “If they feel comfortable hanging out in the center, they will feel comfortable asking us for help when they need it.”
The center is often filled with joyful souls, laughing and socializing while therapy dogs roam about giving free hugs. It is a warm and accepting atmosphere where veterans from all walks of life are welcome and encouraged to spend time.
Services provided through the center include: assistance in gaining and processing documentation necessary to attain veteran benefits, assistance connecting with mental health counselors, aid in preparing for and finding appropriate medical attention, academic advisement, free tutoring, free textbooks, moral support, and fellowship. The center staff is dedicated to helping fellow veterans succeed in their academic endeavors.
The center collaborates with the Veterans Affairs office in St. George, Utah to provide counseling services twice a week at SUU. “We found that students were having to decide between going to class or going to counseling,” said Vadnais. “We didn’t want them to have choose one or the other. They deserve to attend both without obstacle.”
Ninety percent are nontraditional students with families. In efforts to alleviate some of the burden that comes with the responsibility of providing for a family while attending college, the staff works with the Nontraditional Student Center to provide additional assistance such as finding or funding daycare.
Additionally, Vadnais is planning on launching Green Zone Training next fall. Green Zone Training will educate SUU employees about military culture and potential needs or issues veterans may face. The intention is to broaden the network of support to help as many students as possible.
Since May 2016, veteran students have donated over 220 hours of community service. “Many of our students have families and it is important that we engage in school and the community. Staying connected to both increases success,” Vadnais explained. “We encourage the community to get involved in the center too.”
There will be a Veteran’s Day celebration on Friday, November 11 at 11 a.m. in the Hunter Conference Center. All community and campus members are invited and encouraged to attend the free event.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the Veterans Resource and Support Center call (435) 865-8477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like more information about Nontraditional Student Services email email@example.com or call 435-865-8760.