ECU is now expanding their services to students that have served in the military. At the end of last month, Office of Student Veteran Services opened a new lounge complete with a brand new study room for those who want a quiet place to study or just some downtime between classes.
Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of Student Veteran Services at ECU, served in the Navy before going to college and said she knows firsthand how stressful the adjustment can be.
“Being in the military, you are immersed into a different culture than those at college and that can make it hard to relate to traditional student,” she said. “So the student veteran’s lounge is a nice place to come and relax where vets can talk to each other, and speak the same language. They understand each other, it’s a nice, safe place to reconnect.”
The VetSuccess On Campus program is fairly new, first starting in 2010, and continues to grow every year. Currently, ECU is the only campus in North Carolina that has a VSOC counselor. The VetSuccess On Campus program is the face of Veteran Affairs and serves the unique needs of veterans in college.
The purpose of the VSOC counselor is to help military students transition from active duty to any educational inquires they may have in the future. With the new expansion of this service, it makes it that much easier for these students to transition easily and effectively.
ECU has become more veteran friendly every year, and expanding its services will help them achieve even more. During early February, East Carolina was one of 20 schools in the nation selected to participate in the Peer Advisors for Veteran Affairs program, or PAVE. PAVE helps connect incoming student veterans with student veterans already on campus in order to help them adapt to the college lifestyle. ECU’s chapter of this will initiate in the fall.
The Veteran Services office also has plans to launch a three-day orientation just for student veterans. This will give the student veterans hands-on training where they can physically go walk around campus to find buildings that their classes will be held, and go through mock lectures, so that they can experience a college lifestyle firsthand.
“Vets don’t like to ask for help,” Jablonski said. “This workshop will help these students succeed here. They are real assets to campus so we want to teach them to leverage their skills so they can be the standout students we know they can be.”
Former Air Force cadet, Brad Sweesy, is a sophomore accounting major and is excited to see the Veteran Services Programs expand.
“I think it’s great that ECU is doing more for the veterans,” he said. “I love that they are trying to make our adjustment to college less stressful.”
Sweesy also said it’s difficult adjusting from military life to college life, so this expansion can help many students recoup.
However, the expansion of the student veterans program doesn’t stop here. On April 23, the Student Veteran Services is hosting the Storm the Stadium event which is where attendees will run up and down the steps of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. All proceeds will go towards a scholarship for the student veterans.
Jablonski believes this will be a great event for a great cause.
“It’s a powerful indication of this community’s support to our veterans and this extra money for scholarships will be a nice help for them,” Jablonski said.