SSU offers veteran and military services and support

Chalee Hettinger, Staff Reporter

As Veterans Day approaches this Friday, it is important for people in the United States to show their gratitude and support for our troops. Schools hold assemblies honoring military members in their community. Restaurants and stores give away free meals and have discounted prices on items. There are even parades and 5Ks held in some cities. 

At Shawnee State University (SSU), Veteran and Military Services Coordinator Brian Caudill has recently taken over events and activities held on campus for students who served, are currently serving or are part of a military family. What started out as a volunteer position in September for Caudill has now become a full-time job within the last week. He is responsible for helping Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries with any problems they may have on campus, whether it be finding a tutor for a class or explaining financial aid. VA beneficiaries can include: veterans, active duty officers or dependents (children and spouses). 

“I’m excited about having this role, and I think that we can serve veterans the way that they should be treated in my opinion,” Caudill said. 

Due to the recent fulfillment of the coordinator position, Caudill has been unable to plan an event for Veterans Day this week but hopes to have smaller activities and events throughout the year. He is currently looking to set up a table on the first floor of the Morris University Center (MUC) to get the word out about veteran and military services offered at SSU, and possibly having a Veterans and Military Night at an SSU basketball game to honor those on campus and in the community. 

Caudill wants all VA beneficiaries to know that there is a specific place for them to go if they need a break. SSU has a veterans and military services lounge that offers snacks and drinks. The lounge also includes a couch, two recliners, TVs and an Xbox. VA beneficiaries can come here to study, nap, play games or just hang out while on campus. The lounge is located on the second floor of the MUC in room 219. 

SSU has a Student Veterans of America Chapter (SVA) as well. This chapter represents a national organization that allows any VA beneficiary to join. Typically, members host events such as chili cook-offs or bake sales to promote student awareness of veterans and military students on campus, but SVA doesn’t just do things on the SSU campus. Members often volunteer in community events that support the military or veterans. There is also a national convention held once a year that alternates between locations on the east and west coast. Caudill would like to send a delegation to the convention in a couple of years to experience the full benefits of being in SVA. 

Caudill has noticed that there are many students at SSU that are VA beneficiaries who are dependents and are receiving their education through the Forever GI bill. The Forever GI bill ensures that VA beneficiaries do not lose their educational benefits due to an expiration date. Unfortunately, these students do not realize that the veterans and military services office and lounge are available for them as well.  

“I am trying to get the word out that if you are going to school on VA benefits or even if you’re not, but you are a dependent or veteran not using the GI bill, that this office is for them,” Caudill said.      

Caudill encourages any VA beneficiary to stop by the lounge and check out the services that SSU has to offer them. The space was created for veterans, active duty members and dependents and SSU invites them to use it.