Part of nationwide Vet Center Initiative by Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation to support veteran centers on college campuses
Walking onto a college campus after leaving the military can be an uncomfortable experience for student veterans. To help remedy this issue, Penn State Berks has dedicated space for a Student Veterans Center on campus to help veterans feel more connected on campus. The Student Veterans Center grand opening will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017, with a brief ceremony beginning at 9:15 a.m. in room 325 of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. The event is open to the campus community and light refreshments will be served.
Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk and the college’s Student Veterans Organization officers will be present to cut the ceremonial ribbon and officially dedicate the space.
The Center is a result of a Vet Center Initiative funded by The Home Depot Foundation and Student Veterans of America (SVA). In 2016, they awarded the SVA chapter at Penn State Berks $10,000 for its veteran center. The grant was used to transform space in the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building into a new Student Veteran Center.
According to Joseph Webb, Director of Student Support Services and adviser to the SVA chapter, the college used the funding to purchase new furniture, a television, refrigerator and a microwave, as well as to renovate the space with a new coat of paint, and ultimately create a home-away-from-home for student veterans.
“Since many veterans commute to school, have jobs, or juggle other responsibilities, having a place on campus to connect to other veterans and resources can be invaluable,” stated Webb. “As a student organization dedicated to supporting veterans, the SVA officers wanted to create a veteran center on campus to support their fellow veterans, while also leaving a legacy of service to future Penn State Berks student veterans.”
Tiffany Csicsek, a student veteran studying Criminal Justice and an officer in the SVA chapter at Penn State Berks, commented, “I’m looking for a community I can participate in. As a veteran and a nontraditional student, it’s hard to relate to students in my classes about what I’ve done with my life. I hope the Student Veteran Association can use the space for meetings and get togethers where veterans can have feel comfortable talking to one another.”
Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation teamed up in 2014 to launch the Vet Center Initiative, offering SVA chapters a chance to compete for up to $10,000 in grant money to build or renovate a veteran center. By 2015, 61 campuses earned $500,000 to build or rehabilitate veteran centers that benefit more than 30,000 student veterans. In 2016, 50 campus communities were awarded grants of up to $10,000.