Veterans Success Center opens doors, celebrates open house, Marine Corps birthday

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The new Dixie State University Veterans Success Center opened in the Val A. Browning Learning Resource Center this semester. The open house is set for Nov. 10. 

The open house will go from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., starting at the Veterans Memorial where they will pay tribute to the fallen and honor the colors. The open house falls on the Marine Corps birthday and will also celebrate that branch of the military. Three guests, including Senator Evan Vickers, will speak at the open house. Refreshments will be served following the speech, and guests will get the opportunity to explore the center and learn about the services offered. 

The Veterans Success Center offers personalized services to veterans such as benefit assistance, academic help, advisement and more. The center is equipped with computers, printers, a television, a lounge area, coffee and snacks — all free of charge. It is meant to be a place where veterans can connect with other veterans. 

Veterans club president Sean Jordan, a sophomore theater education major from Beaver Dam, is one of three work-study students employed by the Veterans Success Center. He said the purpose of the open house is to raise awareness among the community, including current students and non-students.

“It will be an opportunity for people to come in, see what’s going on and see what their campus is being used for,” Jordan said.

He hopes to attract veterans outside of DSU and possibly even register them for classes at the university to have them start using its benefits.

Jordan said there are 187 veterans at DSU who are receiving military benefits. However, there are approximately 300 total veterans on campus, which means most veteran students are not taking advantage of their military benefits. His biggest worry is determining why all 500 are not using their veteran benefits, and then figuring out how to change that, Jordan said. 

“There’s a lot of financial aid you can get, but a lot of them don’t know where they can come,” Jordan said. 

Veterans club secretary Jonathan LaForce, a senior English major from Los Angeles, is another work-study employee of the center. He said the center takes great pride in being able to help veterans apply for college, get registered for classes and create degree plans. Aside from college registration, the center also helps give assistance with tuition payment programs, locates resources available to veterans, and ensures veterans get compensation and pension from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Part of what makes the center work, LaForce said, is that the staff members are all veterans themselves. He was a marine and served in the Utah guard. He said having mutual ground helps them relate to each other and creates a comfortable and welcoming space. 

The Veterans Success Center staff also assists veterans who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While they are not certified counselors, they are always willing to talk, which is a big help for those going through PTSD, LaForce said. If that is not enough, they refer and even transport veterans to get the professional help they need. 

“Often just talking and really listening to people is enough to help them to remember that they are not forgotten, that they are not worthless, and that things are getting better,” LaForce said.

The staff has big plans for the future of the Veterans Success Center, said Cody Fisher, veterans club vice president and sophomore accounting major from Fruita, Colorado. He and the other two work-study employees envision a daycare center for veterans and single parents to utilize while they’re in classes. In the near future, the center also plans to employ tutors, which lends to one of the main efforts of the center—supporting veterans academically.  

Fisher also said having a strong veteran’s center will draw people to DSU if they know they’ll find support there. A large part of that strength comes from expanding its clientele, recruiting people to get involved with the center, and growing its space to better serve larger numbers. Although the center just recently upgraded to the office in the Browning Learning Resource Center, Fisher is already thinking about expanding to a larger space. To get more space, it needs to show the university that there is a need, he said. 

“[We have to show them] who’s passionate,” Fisher said. “Who wants to make Dixie State University a better place? The Veteran’s Center does.”