Second on-campus cook-off brings EMU veterans together

The Veteran Services Office at Eastern Michigan University held its second Veteran’s Cook-off on Friday at Big Bob’s Lakehouse.

The cookout was sponsored by the Veteran Services Office for the purpose of bringing together older and newer veterans, as well as workers in the VS office, to become acquainted and make friends. The event was advertised through the Veteran Services office, personal e-mails and The Eastern Echo.

According to Shaftone Dunklin, the director of the VS Office at EMU and Marine Corp. veteran, the office is there “to provide services for veterans and dependents and get them situated around the GI Bill.” The office averages around 70 or more veterans a semester.

“The VS Office also has programming and different resources to make the veterans feel more comfortable on campus,” Dunklin said.

The VS Office not only caters to the needs of veterans but also the needs of dependents. A dependent qualifies as someone who is the survivor of either a spouse or father. In order to be considered a survivor, the above mentioned must be either totally disabled, or deceased.

In order to work for the VS Office, you must either be a veteran or a dependent, like workers Deanna Lewandowski, graduate student, and Cherrill Williams, a junior. The jobs of both Lewandowski and Williams include student clerical work, helping transition veterans into the college life and helping them with educational benefits to pay for school. “All branches of service offer other resources on campus, and we just try to help transition the veterans into college life, whether it’s through admissions or events on campus,” Lewandowski said.

Williams has a favorite aspect of working for the VS Office.

She said getting to meet a lot of different people and all the different branches of military are worthwhile because they all have different stories.

At the cookout, veterans new and old shared stories, jokes, opinions on war and politics, and life after fulfilling their military duties.

Common misconceptions of veterans were also discussed, such as what age constitutes being a veteran, which has no limit. People of all age ranges from 20s to 80 and older can be a veteran.

Another misconception according to Jay Clancy, sophomore and veteran of the Navy, would be how veterans return after serving their duties.

“A lot of people think everybody coming back from war and combat are damaged, misadjusted, or a broken shell of their former self,” Clancy said. “But that’s not true, we’re out here helping our communities.”

Clancy has been a student at EMU since the winter semester of 2010 and feels it has been great being at EMU.
“I enjoy being in a learning environment again and being surrounded by all of the historic buildings on EMU’s campus,” he said.

Clancy joined the Navy in 2004 and was stationed in Sicily. He was then deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Clancy joined the Navy because he didn’t know what to do with his life and wanted to “go somewhere and grow up.”

After serving five active years in the military he is now working full-time in the VS Office and working on a degree in nursing. Being a veteran and a college student, Clancy believes his experience differs from that of a traditional college student.

“Where I came from and where I’ve been has taught me hard work and allows me to focus on what I want to do,” Clancy said. “Some things I’ve done and seen really make me feel that every day is a good day.”

The VS Office is preparing for Veteran’s Day of Observance on Nov. 11, as well as a Porter conference sponsored by the Porter charity. This year’s conference is focused on veteran’s issues, and will also be held in November.

Comments powered by Disqus