The Military and Veterans Resource Center has been relocated from the first floor of McKenny Hall. Student veterans at Eastern Michigan University will now register for benefits and receive assistance at 401 Pierce Hall.
“I’m not happy about it and just worried about the amount of space in the office,” said Ida Mollett, who was enlisted in the Air Force for 20 years and held the job title superintendent of chapel operations. She is now enrolled in EMU’s master’s program for public administration and was EMU’s Student Veterans of America’s president last year.
“If we don’t have room we will have to expand somewhere, because at certain times there are quite a few veterans in the office that all need assistance and it gets chaotic,” Mollett said. “Sometimes veterans like to come in and relax or just hang out before class, and it doesn’t sound like that’s an option at the new location.”
She said the move may not be beneficial for veterans on campus for other reasons than just the lack of room to lounge.
“I think we should have been moved to the Student Center, because there is a lot of student veteran traffic throughout that building. Maybe being across from the admissions office will be a blessing because it’s so close, but the office space will still be an issue,” Mollett said.
Sean Stevens served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division as a vehicle recovery operator. He is now a communications major at EMU and will be SVA’s vice president for the new school year.
Stevens is upset the Veterans Resource Center was moved for several reasons, including the familiarity veterans had with the McKenny office, the lack of space in the new office and the fact that veterans bring in money for EMU.
“I don’t know exactly how much money student veterans are responsible for bringing in to the school, but I’m guessing that it’s more than enough to justify keeping the larger space of the old office,” he said. “We may not bring in as much money as sports for example, and we may not be the best at throwing a football or hitting a baseball, but we have all served our country and risked our lives for the opportunity to go to school.”
Stevens also said some veterans may need assistance to become successful scholars, and EMU should try to assist them in any way possible.
“I have also read studies that suggest the dropout rates for veterans is at an all-time high,” Stevens said. “Someone needs to step up and ensure that we have programs on campus to keep veterans in school and focused on learning.”
Anne McKee is the director for veteran services at EMU and said the university had 636 veterans enrolled in classes last year using benefits like the Post 9/11 GI Bill. She said the number of student veterans on campus could be more than 900, but some have depleted their scholarships before receiving their degree.
“I think it’s important for veterans to have a place to relax and be themselves as they transition,” she said.
The Military and Veterans Resource Center has been located in McKenny Hall since roughly 2009, McKee said.
John Frye served in the Marines from 2008-2012 as a crewman on an amphibious assault vehicle and held many different positions. He is now studying at EMU to become a high school history teacher.
Frye said members of the veteran community at EMU need a place to call their own.
“Veterans are coming from a very structured environment,” Frye said. “Some have to overcome PTSD, anxiety, depression and other problems. We need a place to hang out for sure.”
Frye will be the next SVA president when the fall semester begins, and he also works in the Military Veterans Resource Center helping with a variety of tasks. He said the change of office location was not expected.
“It was a last second move, and it is hectic trying to get everything squared away,” Frye said. “Now we are crammed and don’t have much space.”
EMU senior Stephanie Jared is a student coordinator and has worked in Pierce Hall for five years.
She said she is looking forward to having the veterans move into the nearby office space.
“I’ve probably had at least one veteran in every one of my classes, and they are always good students and polite,” Jared said.
According to different SVA members, members of EMU’s administration have said the office in Pierce Hall is temporary.
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