Student Veterans Organization members lobby for veteran-specific resources

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    Student Veterans Organization members are trying to get resources for veterans on campus, including a resource center and a university staff member to handle veterans’ affairs.

    AJ Johnson, president of SVO, said student veterans are not typical university students and have specific needs that are not currently being met by the university.

    SVO member Landon Woods said an example is that veterans would benefit from a resource center on campus, including a safe, quiet place for veterans to study.

    He said the Mary Couts Burnett Library is not a good place to study for veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder because it is hard for them to stay focused when so many students are moving around in the room they are working in.

    Woods said he met with the Kathy Cavins-Tull, the vice chancellor of student affairs, about getting an area on campus reserved for veterans.

    “It’s kind of a bigger issue than student veterans because if you give a group a lounge or a resource center, where does it end?” Cavins-Tull said.

    If one group has a space exclusively dedicated to them, other university organizations would want the same, she said.

    SVO is currently using a space in Scharbauer Hall, which was donated to them by the criminal justice department, she said.

    Before Woods came to TCU, he took classes at other college campuses such as Tulsa Community College. He said they had resources similar to what SVO members want from TCU.

    “They had a veterans resource center,” Woods said. “They had a study space that was specific for them.”

    There is no plan for the veterans to have a space in any of the new additions on campus that are currently undergoing construction, Woods said.

    “I know that there’s no specific plan for us to have a space in any of the build-outs they’re doing right now,” he said. “The biggest issue at TCU for finding a space is that space is really hard to find on campus.”

    In addition, Woods and Johnson said they are trying to get the administration to hire a staff member to work exclusively on veterans’ affairs.

    April Brown, assistant director of Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services, is a designated staff member to work on veteran’s affairs, but it is not her only job, Cavins-Tull said.

    TCU has a lower number of veterans enrolled than other schools who have a representative, Cavins-Tull said.

    “Right now, we haven’t seen the enrollment [of veterans] that would designate a need for a full-time person,” she said.

    Yet Woods said he believes there is a benefit at other college campuses that have representatives.

    “The retention rate and the GPA is higher for the universities that have these,” he said.

    This representative would be able to handle issues veterans face at TCU such as getting credits to transfer from a military transcript or getting treatment for PTSD from the counseling center, he said.

    “The problem is that veterans are used to getting things done in an efficient manner,” Woods said. “And it’s hard to sit back and hear ‘Maybe.’”

    But some SVO members said they agree that the university took steps to become veteran-friendly.

    “TCU has taken a huge leap towards being a veteran friendly school,” Johnson said. “But you’ve got veterans here. Congratulations. Now what are you going to do to keep them here?”