Veterans an integral part of campus

Ben pierce, Assistant News Editor

The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is home to more than 1,600 students that have served in the armed forces in some capacity.

It’s a number that continues to grow.

Richard Harris, Coordinator of Student Veterans and Military Services, says educating veterans is more important than ever before.

“America has not seen this many veterans in college campuses since World War II,” he said. “With that growth comes huge challenges, and we are trying to narrow those challenges as much as possible. Sixteen hundred students is a pretty hidden population and we want that population to have a voice.”

Harris said he thinks veterans pick Whitewater because it’s “ideal.”

“The biggest reason we get these students is that we have a great location but the size of campus really is ideal for them,” Harris said. “The veterans can have personal interaction with other students and faculty. Most of these students don’t just want to be a face in a lecture – they want connections.”

Brandon Schultz is a pre-biology medicine major. Schultz, who served for eight years in the army, is glad he chose the UW-Whitewater.

“There’s quite a few things that opened up for us veterans and continue to open up as time moves on,” he said. “It’s a great place for veterans to find the help that they need.”

Justin Brock served for more than eight years in the marine corps as an infantryman. The Lake Mills native chose Whitewater because of its proximity to home. He too is happy with his decision.

“My experience has been good. Faculty and students treat me the same way as everyone else, which is nice. I feel like I belong here,” Brock said.

Brock said that while the experience is ongoing, he said veterans services has helped connect veterans with each other.

“Veteran services are able to help find a path through all of the yellow tape that the VA has put up. The experience we have as vets allow us to help others through anything because one of us has been there and gotten through it,” he said.

Veterans and service members have a separate lounge in Andersen Library where they can hang out and study together. Brock said they’re welcome to visitors.

“Join us or come ask us questions,” he said.

For Harris, the work is never ending and he wants the university to continue its effort to help veterans because their ability to be at college cost others in the biggest way.

“We want to help them in their transition from the military culture to the student culture. Right now is a trying time in the military community because there are still people fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and more.”