University reaches out to military veterans on campus
September 14, 2010Tweet
A semester-long series of events is designed to help veterans become acclimated to Binghamton University in their new role as students.
“When it became apparent that President Obama was going to pull troops from Iraq, we realized that we were going to have an influx of veterans,” said Marty Wygmans, TRIO/Veterans Office director, who has designed the series with Dara Raboy-Picciano, staff social worker at the University Counseling Center. “If we are going to have this influx of students, we should do something to make them feel welcome and help them be successful.”
The series begins on Sept. 22, when a brown-bag lunch presentation called “How to Help Veterans Be More Successful in the Classroom” will be held from noon-1 p.m. in UU-124. The session, open to all faculty and staff members, will feature Renee Dallimore, a veteran in the master’s of social work program; Allison Miller, a team leader for the Veterans Center; and graduate student Karen Colosi.
Presenters will help faculty participants consider different ways of interacting with veterans in the classroom, Wygmans said.
“There is a belief by the veterans on this campus that faculty don’t understand how the veteran fits in the classroom,” she said. “This is our way of helping faculty understand that a veteran is a regular student and a veteran, too.”
Veterans also could be affected by being on a liberal campus that is generally anti-war, Wygmans said.
“Sometimes the words (faculty) say aren’t meant to harm people or be judgmental, but they are,” she said. “In the classroom, they could say something disparaging about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan not knowing there are two or three veterans in the class.”
The October and November events will focus directly on veterans. On Oct. 12, in UUW-B08, veterans will be able to take part in a breakfast session that emphasizes improving study skills and ways to achieve academic success.
On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), a morning ceremony will take place at the Couper Administration Building flagpole, followed by a lunch at the University Downtown Center featuring campus officials and other dignitaries. The lunch also will give veterans the opportunity to meet fellow students who have served the country, Raboy-Picciano said.
“The lunch will give them the chance to come together and meet socially in one place,” she said. “We want to let them know that they are not alone on campus and can have connections with each other and the professional staff.”
The number of veterans attending Binghamton University rose to 82 in 2009 and has held steady since then, Wygmans said. The number could be higher, she said, as veterans are identified only through admissions and financial-aid forms or through paperwork done at the Veterans Center office in Champlain Hall.
A survey was conducted in spring 2010 to gauge veterans’ interest in a potential programming series.
“The responses were positive that they did want a campus environment that was inclusive of veterans,” Wygmans said. “They weren’t thrilled about indentifying themselves, but said they would attend an event if it was for them.”
Wygmans and Raboy-Picciano, whose fathers are both veterans, also plan to conduct a focus group in December to see what veterans thought of the series and to develop future events.
“This is just the beginning,” Raboy-Picciano said. “This will get bigger and better so we can serve the veterans and create (an environment) where they feel welcome, honored and a part of this community.”