Veterans Services Office dedicated with ceremony

From left, Melvin Kearney, Gary Hawks, Sue Martin, Bernice Lindke, Shaftone Dunklin and Jack Kay gather at McKenny Hall to celebrate the grand opening of the Veterans Services Office.

Veterans and Eastern Michigan University administrators officially dedicated the Veterans Services Office with a ribbon cutting at noon Wednesday in McKenny Hall.

The event coincided with Veterans’ Day as well as Veterans’ week, an EMU event to honor those who have served in the armed forces.

“I want all of you veterans to know we appreciate you every day,” said Regent Gary Hawks, who spoke at the event.

Other speakers included President Susan Martin; Vice President for Student Affairs Bernice Lindke; Provost Jack Kay; Melvin Kearney II, an advocate for the Wounded Warrior program of Department of the Army; student veteran Adam Betz and Shaftone Dunklin, the director of Veterans Services.

“A couple of months ago, we felt it was necessary to dedicate a space to veterans on campus,” Dunklin said. “Everyone has really come together to make this campus friendly to veterans.”

The Veterans Services Office began as a desire by many, including Dunklin, to have a dedicated space for veterans on campus. The office was functioning in McKenny for several months, but the ribbon cutting ceremony formally opened the space for students.

“Our biggest goal,” Dunklin said, “is to not just have an office space, but have a welcoming space for veterans.”

The office will function as a welcoming place for new students who are transitioning from the armed forces to life on a college campus. Among its services, it will assist veterans with their financial and educational needs as well as offer ways to connect them with fellow veterans.

Betz, a double major in social studies and history a current member of the Army National Guard, arrived on EMU’s campus after a 2008 deployment. Betz felt isolated and thought other veterans may feel the same when transitioning into college life. With help from EMU, Betz began the EMU chapter of Student Veterans of America.

“The main thing with the chapter is to provide a support service for guys coming out of duty,” Betz said. The organization is open to veterans and their family members. Betz wants those arriving on campus to feel a sense of solidarity with other veterans.

Exercise science major and air force veteran Brad Baudoin arrived on campus this year and instantly fell in with the Student Veterans chapter and the Veterans Services Office.

“We all have one thing in common on campus,” he said. “It’s someplace we can go to when we have questions on campus.”

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