Veterans socialize at Veterans' reception

Photographer: Dave Talmage

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Spring Veteran's Reception celebrates good news for vets

Fundraising for new veterans' student lounge underway

University College and its affiliated Office of Veterans' Academic Services hosted the Spring Veteran's Reception on Thursday in the Baker University Center Theatre Lounge to celebrate the progress being made in helping veterans make an effective transition to Ohio University and thereby begin to fulfill their promise.

University College Dean David Descutner said that during the past two years, University College has been part of a university-wide effort to assist veterans on campus that includes student veterans and representatives from the faculty, Student Affairs, Admissions, the Libraries, Disability Services, the Registrar’s Office, the Bursar’s Office, and Career Services.  

An important step last summer, which was made possible through funding from Enrollment Management, was to create the position of coordinator of veteran's academic services.

Angela Lash holds this position and, according to Descutner, has done a superb job of directly helping veterans and developing partnerships with key units that touch the lives of student veterans.

Descutner reported that fundraising efforts to support veterans services are off to a good start  thanks largely to the extraordinary work of University Advancement and especially veteran Michael Logue, who has been one of the leaders in the fundraising campaign.   

Key contributors to the Veterans Service Fund include alumnus Ken Peak, who donated,$25,000 and agreed to match subsequent gifts up to $65,000; alumnae Arlene Greenfield, who donated $5,000; The Benefit Concert Series donated $1,000; and Descutner, who agreed to use $20,000 from his dean's discretionary fund to support veterans services and to help cover some of the costs for the planned veterans lounge.

Outgoing Professor of Military Science Army Lt. Col. Joel Smith said he is excited about the future.

"If a university is veteran friendly, veterans are going to choose it," Smith said. "They're going to come to a university with strong academic programs like OHIO. The numbers will continue to go up."

Incoming Professor of Military Science, Army Lt. Col. Terry St. Peter, thinks that in today's world, the kinds of services at OHIO are much needed and represent great opportunities for veterans.

"In a decade of war like we are experiencing, the U.S. has many veterans looking to make themselves better and to reintegrate into society," St. Peter said. "It's great to see that OHIO has programs to help veterans better themselves and a program that's exclusively focused on that goal."

Descutner praised Logue, president of the Combat Veterans Club, whose tenacity and leadership were recognized recently when he was named one of the top student leaders at OHIO. 

Logue said the Combat Veterans Club was started three years ago to help student veterans adapt from the military lifestyle to the civilian lifestyle.

"It's a totally different environment, coming from the Marines to college, and the university really had nothing on campus to connect veterans," Logue said.

The club's success has helped create the now permanent position for Veterans Services that is making a difference in veteran's lives.

Logue, who graduates this spring, shared a final thought on his accomplishments at OHIO.

"Personally, I hope I've left the University better than I found it," he said.

Veteran and OHIO freshman Devon Aey was at first hesitant to get involved with the Combat Veterans Club, but now believes it has been a huge help.

"I eventually started coming because I met Mike … the guys who are here know what they are doing and just through them I've gotten a lot of questions answered. If I could tell anyone, especially Marines, that being involved with this club is beneficial, I would, Aey said.

Lash has organized receptions during the past academic year to honor Veterans' Day and the winter quarter visit from the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Exhibit. She hopes that by organizing these events OHIO can build a strong community of student, faculty and staff veterans, along with veterans from the Athens region.

"We are really trying to bring people together," Lash said. "I think this project is extremely important and it's been great so far. The students I've met are hardworking, grateful and focused on getting their degree."

OHIO faculty member and U.S. Navy veteran Dave Bayless received the invitation to attend the reception and was excited that the university was doing something for veterans.

"I had no idea there was a program until I got the email," Bayless said "But I'm glad they're having veterans get together here on campus."