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Resources For Student Vets

December 12, 2013, 10:20 PM by Stephanie Gregory

Resources For Student Vets

If you find yourself in the basement of South Dakota State University's Student Union, you'll find the new Veterans Resource Center lined with veterans and current service members.

"(It) provides a place for them to heal, to connect, to feel like coming back to school is going to be a place that is beneficial for them," coordinator of veteran affairs at SDSU Brian Mahaffy said. "I remember my own transition from the service into campus life and it was very tough. I didn't have another person who understood what I lived through.”

Each year hundreds of veterans and armed service members hit the books at colleges and universities. One person who comes to the center for the resources and camaraderie is Air Force veteran, and fishery science grad student, Thomas Shileny.

"It's just like any other multi-cultural center on campus. It gets you in touch with people that are like yourself so you know you're not alone," Shileny said.

From providing assistance in signing up for military education and financial benefits, to having an armed forces association that helps the community, some of the services offered run even deeper.

"Some might have deployed and need a safe place to come back and talk with someone who has had similar experiences," Mahaffy said.

"Just a good place for student veterans and military service members to go to during school," member of the armed forces Kristen Croymans said.

More than 300 student veterans walk the SDSU campus. The resource center is aimed at building a bridge between the armed services and higher education. It's an opportunity that can help many of these vets in the long run.

"It's very helpful and convenient," Colin Nelson said.

Nelson is a senior majoring in civil engineering. He is also an Army National Guard Vet.

"The transition between military to being a full time student, it makes the transitions that much easier," Nelson said.

Nelson uses the Veterans Resource Center for a number of things, but one of them being - just having a place to stay.

"I drive up from Sioux Falls so this gives me a good place to come and work on my homework or study for a test," Nelson said.

And SDSU believes it will see many more veterans walk into the center in years to come.

"With the wars winding down in 2015 we are going to have a vast amount of men and women coming back that need some transition time. That need some battle buddies," Mahaffy said.

The Veteran Resource Center at South Dakota State University campus had its grand opening in November. The school also has a Veterans Resource Association. For more information, click here

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